Mad Cow Disease news hurts beef industry - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Mad Cow Disease news hurts beef industry

January 5, 2004

Mitchell County - The isolated Mad Cow Disease case out west has pinched the beef cattle industry, but south Georgia beef cattlemen are staying positive.

Cattlemen are not getting as much money for their cattle. With several countries avoiding American meat, the market has dropped.

The one cattle that tested positive of Mad Cow Disease, or BSE, came from Canada. Now, three facilities in Washington State are under quarantine. Beef cattlemen in our area are shocked, but are recovering.

Lane Holton is one of the biggest beef cattleman in the state of Georgia. He explains, "We'll run about 50 to 60,000 a year through."

Holton owns Holton Cattle and Consulting. He says, "We check our cattle daily for anything that goes wrong. They get sick and have respiratory problems, just like people."

The single dairy cattle that tested positive in Washington State has caused countries like Japan and Mexico to temporarily stop buying American meat. Holton explains, "We usually export 12 to 15 percent of meat produced in this country."

Since the recent Mad Cow Disease news, the market has dropped 15 to 20 cents a pound. Holton adds, "If you're looking at a 1200 pound steer, that's pretty dramatic, it could be $200 to $240." 

The Mitchell County cattleman says the market is slowly recovering, "We would feel good if we can get the export market back open we'll be in pretty good shape because consumers seem to be identifying with our product real well."

Should consumers be worried? Holton and the USDA says no. Holton explains, "The people who have contracted it [BSE] have eaten internal parts, like the brain or spinal cord, but as far as eating meat, there should be no danger."

As the single case out west is under investigation, consumer demand for beef remains very strong. Holton believes things are looking up.

Cows get the disease by eating feed contaminated with animal product, which was banned in the U.S. in 1997.

posted at 6:15PM by kathryn.simmons@walb.com