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National cattlemen committed to producing high quality beef

Dr. Sam Ives, director of veterinary services and associate director of research at Cactus Feeders, Ltd., testified today on behalf of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association at a House Agriculture Committee Hearing on food safety. NCBA members are committed to producing the safest and highest quality beef in the world. Since 1993, cattle producers have invested more than $27 million in beef safety research and the beef industry as a whole spends approximately $350 million every year on beef safety.

The following is an excerpt from Ives' remarks as prepared:

"Everyone plays an important role in the safety of food. And it starts with producers raising healthy cattle as cattlemen are committed to producing the safest, most wholesome, nutritious and affordable beef products in the world. There is no question that the United States has the safest food supply in the world and other countries consider the U.S. the 'gold standard'. Cattle producers support the establishment of realistic food safety objectives designed to protect public health to the maximum extent possible.

"We appreciate the willingness of the Energy and Commerce Committee to discuss and learn more about how meat and poultry products are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and we understand the intent of the bill (H.R. 2749) is to exempt livestock and poultry from this Food and Drug Administration--focused bill. However, we are concerned the current bill language does not go far enough to ensure Congressional intent is not misinterpreted. The bill must contain clear legislative language to ensure that FDA is not granted the authority to regulate livestock on-farm by mandating production standards for cattlemen across the country. Live animals are not food until the point of processing, and we would like to see language that explicitly excludes livestock and poultry from the definition of "food" under this bill and the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act.

The bill also grants FDA redundant authority regarding quarantine of a geographical area where food presents serious adverse health consequences to human or animals. This new responsibility of FDA is concerning as under the Animal Health Protection Act, USDA can impose a federal quarantine for animal health reasons when they deem necessary and work closely with State authorities. Under the Animal Health Protection Act, the government is mandated to pay indemnity to producers when the government "takes" an animal, this provision does not require FDA to pay indemnity.

The U.S. has the safest food supply in the world, which is an achievement worth noting. Science is a critical component of the beef industry and through science-based improvements in animal genetics, management practices, nutrition and health, beef production per cow has increased from 400 pounds of beef in the mid 1960s to 585 pounds of beef in 2005. As beef producers, we have our work cut out for us in order to feed our ever growing population. Cattlemen will continue to increase efficiencies based on science in order to produce high-quality beef with fewer resources being consumed.

The beef industry will continue to dedicate time and resources to ensure the safety of beef. We look forward to working with the Committees to ensure Congressional intent of this bill is not misunderstood."

Headquarted in Amarillo, Texas, Cactus Feeders runs nine large-scale cattle feedyards across the Texas and Kansas, producing 1,000,000 head of cattle for slaughter annually. As the feedyard's primary advisor on animal health and well-being, Ives is responsible for leading proactive research efforts in animal health technologies and advising employees on best practices to prevent cattle disease and ensure a safe and wholesome meat product for consumers.



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