- Another small meat packer besides Creekstone Farms Premium
Beef has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to do 100 percent testing
of the cattle it processes for mad cow disease.
- The Gateway Beef Cooperative in Overland, Mo., a St.
Louis suburb, has followed the lead of Creekstone, and requested private
testing to reopen foreign markets for American beef.
- Robbie Meyer, president of the cooperative, wrote a letter
dated April 30 to Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman asking for permission
to test. The USDA has not yet responded, a cooperative spokeswoman said
- Meanwhile, Kansas State Rep. Joe Shriver, D-Arkansas
City, is busy today trying to arrange a conference call between Bill Fielding,
Creekstone's chief operating officer in Ark City, and members of the House
- Shriver has introduced a House resolution supporting
Creekstone. The agriculture committee met Monday on the resolution, but
no vote was taken.
- "I talked with Chairman (Dan) Johnson the other
day and he wants to talk with Creekstone and then with other packers in
the industry," Shriver said. "We're trying to arrange an ITV
link-up between an office in Topeka and the ITV room at Cowley College."
- Fielding wasn't immediately available this morning to
comment on the proposed teleconference.
- Creekstone is losing an estimated $200,000 a day in sales
to Japan, Shriver said, and the U.S. beef industry as a whole is losing
and estimated $1.5 billion.
- The State Legislature is winding up its session, and
Shriver acknowledged today that time may be running short on getting the
Creekstone resolution passed.
- "There is a stalemate on the education funding ideas,"
he said. "But we are in our 84th day, and hopefully we'll get that
resolved before the 90th day. We are in the 11th hour, and some minutes."
- Tricia Falter, communications director for the Missouri
Farmers Union, said Gateway had built a $250,000 cutting room to start
processing products for the Japan market. A few days later, last December,
a case of mad cow was discovered in Washington state and Japan closed its
borders to U.S. beef.
- "We were so close," Falter said. "We had
our order placed with Japan, and we were in-place to be a hormone-free
producer for European Union markets."
- Ironically, the USDA representative working with Gateway
to establish a verified hormone-free program was reassigned to BSE testing
(bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow).
- "The USDA is actively involved in helping us get
these marketing tools, and then suddenly they are shutting us down from
doing BSE testing," she said. "It's kind of disheartening."
- Falter said Gateway had watched closely as Creekstone
tried to get permission from the USDA to test for mad cow.
- "We wanted to be on record asking for permission
for the same thing," she said. "As more of us small independent
packers stick together, then sooner or later the USDA will have to listen."
- "Creekstone is forging the way and making it easier
for us," she added. "We think it's great trying to back them
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