Monday, March 13, 2006

Mad Cow, Avian Flu, CAFOs ... Anybody home?

The third case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in the United States has been confirmed here in Alabama, hardly the ideal thing given the desire of many beef producers to tap back into the Japanese/Asian markets. At this point seems to provide the most complete coverage. With bird flu looming perhaps some nice factory farm hogs will be the protein of choice. Concentrated animal feeding operatons (CAFOs) are becoming common in Alabama and across the nation and they can simply be an environmental disaster. As for Alabama's first mad cow incident, it appears that a small operation, the exact location undisclosed, purchased a "downer cow" less than a year ago. The animal is apparently old enough to have been around before the ban on "protein supplementation" began in 1997. Determining the animal's history is made difficult with the lack of tracking procedures. The cattle industry, hardly a uniform group with producers and packers often having multiple voices even among their own, has at times supported, supported limited reforms, and resisted changes, especially Country of Origin Labeling (COOL). USDA's National Animal Identification Plan speaks of phased in reforms and future plans.

Recognizing that regulation and government can be positive, as opposed to what seems like the knee-jerk tendencies from the right wing, the Captain certainly sees the benefit of leadership on this issue. Disruptions in the market that could result from BSE here in Alabama may very well hurt the folks in the branchheads and perhaps even the Big Mules. Let us hope that ALFA and some other agriculture groups will step up to the plate on BSE. I often ask right wingers how their beloved market can deal with circumstances so I'd love to hear how they'd tackle the above issues. GOP talking points don't exactly work here do they? C'mon Conservatives!

At the national level the GOP controlled Congress has also been in line with the radical right's resistance to Progressive ideas. Bu$hCo has demonstrated incompetence and idiocy over and over yet Avian Flu has hardly surprised anybody. Of course Bu$hCo is on the move so we've got our fingers crossed. Rummy will have made enough on TamiFlu where he could personally buy armor for the army he went to war with. The Bu$h administration's environmental record is especially dreadful yet in Alabama we hardly expect better. Peace ... or War!