"R-CALF USA urges Congress and USDA to immediately and completely abandon the flawed National Animal Identification System," said R-CALF USA President/Region VI Director Max Thornsberry, a Missouri veterinarian who also chairs the group's animal health committee. "Instead, we recommend that Congress and USDA focus on targeted solutions to the legitimate livestock disease-related challenges faced by U.S. livestock industries, and take steps to meaningfully address legitimate food safety challenges, as are evidenced by recent and massive recalls of meat produced in U.S. slaughtering plants."
Specifically, R-CALF USA has recommended the following eight-point alternative course:
1. Prevent the importation of serious cattle diseases and pests from foreign sources by:
a. Prohibiting the importation of livestock from any country that experiences outbreaks of serious zoonotic diseases, including pests, until scientific evidence demonstrates the diseases and/or pests have been eradicated or fully controlled and there is no known risk of further spread. This recommendation includes a request for an immediate ban on live cattle imports from Canada, which harbor a heightened risk for BSE.
b. Requiring all imported livestock to be permanently and conspicuously branded with a mark of origin so identification can be made if a zoonotic disease or serious pest outbreak occurs in the exporting country subsequent to importation.
c. Requiring all livestock imported into the United States to meet health and safety standards identical to those established for the United States, including adherence to U.S. prohibitions against certain feed ingredients, pesticide use on feedstuffs, and certain livestock pharmaceuticals.
d. Requiring TB testing of all imported Mexican cattle and further requiring that all Mexican cattle remain quarantined in designated feedlots until slaughtered.
e. Reversing USDA's efforts to carve out regions within disease-affected foreign countries in order to facilitate imports from the affected country before the disease of concern is fully controlled or eradicated.