Iowa farmers and consumers will get up update on Mad Cow disease this week, with a satellite program being offered by the Iowa Beef Center. Director John Lawrence says since the first news about the disease in Britain, American farmers have used safe procedures like using only animal feed that contains no slaughterhouse scraps. In 1997 a ban went into effect on feeding cow parts back to other “ruminants”, though you can still feed slaughterhouse remnants to pigs and chickens, a centuries-old way to use material that would otherwise go to waste. Lawrence says a new USDA ban on meatpackers slaughtering so-called “downer” animals will not have much effect on Iowa farmers with a herd to take to market.He says the reason is simple economics — such animals slow down the whole chain, and only small packing plants like the one in Washington that turned up the sick animal take them, processing just a few animals a day. He says it’ll have little impact on the industry and on Iowa livestock. Lawrence praises media coverage of the single U.S. case of Mad Cow and says consumers don’t seem to be going into any kind of panic over the nation’s meat supply. Lawrence says while prices have remained strong, consumers can hope to see sales at the meat counter in coming weeks. He says it may be some time before Japan lifts a ban it’s put on imports of U.S. beef. He expects to see Mexico, another of our 3 top trading partners, reopen imports first, as they joined the US already in resuming imports of Canadian beef last September. Dr. Lawrence says to resume trade with Japan, the U.S. may have to tighten its packing-plant operations further. He says the U.S. is the major supplier of high-quality, grain-fed beef to japan and in time consumers will demand the reopening of imports. Farmers and consumers can see Wednesday’s satellite broadcast at local extension offices and on the satellite and cable farm channel “RFD-TV.” The information, and the panel’s answers to viewer questions, will be posted on the center’s website at http://www.iowabeefcenter.org/
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