Creekstone Farms issued a statement Wednesday in response to USDA opposition of Creekstone's attempts to gain permission to voluntarily test their cattle for bovine spongiform encephalitis. The statement marks the latest in a back-and-forth argument between the proponents and opponents of voluntary BSE testing.
In the statement, Creekstone opposes the claims USDA made in the response it filed Friday to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, including the argument that USDA's prohibition on voluntary testing did not harm Creekstone Farms and that the 1913 Virus Serum Toxins Act gives the USDA authority to regulate BSE testing.
The statement says that when legislators passed the Virus Serum Toxins Act in 1913, "it was never Congress's intent to provide USDA with authority over who may use diagnostic test kits." It also claims that USDA's prohibition of voluntary private testing has harmed Creekstone Farms because the company "would be able to sell much more beef at higher prices to its customers if it were able to test for BSE."
With serious competitors Australia and New Zealand considered BSE free, Creekstone says the USDA should allow voluntary testing in order to keep U.S. beef competitive. The statement blames USDA for agreeing to Japanese restrictions on U.S. beef imports that it says only allow 10% of U.S. cattle to qualify for export to Japan.
Creekstone contests USDA's assertion that private BSE testing would have a negative effect on management of the disease. Although many opponents of voluntary private testing believe producers who find BSE may not reveal it to authorities in order to preserve their business, the statement says that "voluntary BSE testing under USDA guidelines can only increase the amount of data related to the disease."