Keepin’ Up Is Hard To Do

Have you heard the latest on the USDA? Please, remain reverent. No snickering. Piety is a must. This is, afterall, the official Federal Agency responsible for the health and welfare of every animal that enters the food supply in the United States. What�s more, the USDA is our vanguard. They are right now fighting the most dangerous forward action against diseases threatening the lives of every American. Avian Flu? They�ll quarantine birds. Scrapie? Check the Scrapie Eradication Programs. BSE? Don�t even bother. They�re on it.

As a matter of fact, to date they�ve tested over 650,000 cattle. Notice the word they. They do not allow private individuals or companies to voluntarily test for BSE. They must do that. Afterall, they are the people who�ve been trained to do this. We should leave it up to them. Accounting, though, is another matter, apparently.

It appears that a veterinarian working in the Madison, Wisconsin office of the USDA has recently been reassigned � not fired, mind you. Why? This vet was responsible for a slight $1,200,000 discrepancy in overpayments to vendors responsible for various necessaries of the BSE test program. Would you have fired your employee over a 1.2 million dollar discrepancy? Would a 1.2 million dollar discrepancy even exist if you and I were even allowed to test our own animals for BSE? If it�s a threat and the health of our population depends on it, don�t we need to test for it? Somehow a standardized BSE tests seems an easier solution than, say, RFID tags in every animal, tag readers at $500 a pop, management software, premises registrations, reporting every animal movement, and tagging stations paid for by tax dollars. But then, what do we know? We�re just simple farmers.

Still, the question remains, if they can�t keep up with over a million dollars, how are they going to keep up with every animal in the United States?