- FARGO, N.D. (AP) - New restrictions on livestock feed are meant to ensure America's
herds are not devastated by the dreaded mad cow disease. But producers
apparently have been among the last to learn about many of the rules.
- Wade Moser, executive vice president
of the North Dakota Stockmen's Association, said his 3,100-member group
knew nothing about recordkeeping requirements that took effect in August.
- ``It's news to me,'' he said. ``I doubt
any of our members knew a thing about it either. ... The whole thing seems
a little ridiculous to me.''
- The North Dakota Agriculture Department
and federal officials have been trying to get the word out to producers
about the new laws, but they admit it has been a tough go.
- ``Back in November, we had a special
program in Bismarck to get some information out through the department,''
said Bob Vandal, who oversees feed regulations for the state Agriculture
Department. ``We invited all the veterinarians, producers, the extension
service, but our turnout was embarrassingly low.''
- Mad cow disease is believed to have been
spread by cattle feed containing ground-up sheep parts, and last year,
British scientists announced that humans may have contracted the disease
by eating diseased beef.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration
in August imposed rules banning producers from giving livestock any feed
made from the body parts of similar animals. The law also requires producers
to keep detailed records to ensure none of their livestock feed comes from
- Researchers believe mad cow disease is
spread when livestock such as cattle and sheep - known as ruminant animals
because of their unique digestive system - eat feed made from other ruminant
- The fatal brain-destroying disease, known
scientifically as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, has ravaged cattle
herds in Britain for a decade. It is blamed for about 20 human deaths overseas.
- Mad cow disease has never surfaced in
the United States, either in livestock or humans. The FDA feed rules are
meant to ensure it never does.
- Feed made from ruminant livestock parts
must be labeled as such and include a warning that it is illegal to give
the feed to cattle, sheep, domestic deer or bison.
- Livestock producers who give their animals
feed made from other animal proteins such as fish or swine are required
to keep their purchase invoices for one year. They also must keep the label
from the feed bag for one year as proof it did not contain any banned substance.
- Vandal, with the state Agriculture Department,
said while the change might seem cumbersome, it should not create any headaches
- ``Most of them keep their invoices that
long anyway for tax purposes,'' he said. ``And if I was a producer, I'd
want all my ducks in a row in case this (virus) ever surfaced in the U.S.
so I could show, `Hey, this did not come from my cows.'''
- Don Aird, a spokesman for the FDA in
Minneapolis, said the laws mandate spot checks of livestock herds and fines
- ``We're not trying to put anyone in jail
or take their money,'' he said. ``We just want to protect the beef and
this is the best way to do that.''