The U-S Department of Agriculture took action this week to assure consumers the food supply is safe, saying “downer” animals will no longer be accepted at meatpacking plants in the U-S. Iowa State University Extension Market News Director Doug Cooper doesn’t see it making a big difference in the industry. He says you have to differentiate between an animal that’s sick and one that’s down for some other reason like a leg injury. Cooper says farmers don’t want to send sick animals to the meat supply and adds there already were probably enough rules to avoid that type of thing. Cooper says scientists “in the know” have told consumers there’s little or no risk, so it’s more a problem for the industry than any threat to public health. While the Chicago Mercantile Exchange limits how much any commodity can go up or down in price to avoid a panic upsetting the market, Cooper says the CME made a good move in expanding those limits. If the limits had stayed at the original $1.50 up or down in price, he says you’d have seen the limit-down trading go on for more days in a row, leaving uncertainty, so by letting the market go as low as it’s going to, then it can stabilize. He says the steady business continuing on the exchange proves the move was the right thing to do. While trading is light over the winter holidays, work’s continuing to determine whether the cow in question came from Canada. They’re trading today, though prices are lower, and Cooper says it’s a good sign that both sellers and buyers are active in the market. While some importers of American beef immediately declared they’d quit buying, Cooper says it’s not a disaster for producers here. Only 10-percent of US beef is exported, a big difference from Canada which exports more than 50-percent of its beef, and Cooper jokes it just means we have to eat more beef here. Cooper says even if researchers confirm the cow was not raised in the U-S, it’ll still take a while to reassure our international trading partners that American beef is compeltely safe.
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