Secretary Backs Downer Theory

USDA Secretary Ann Veneman told reporters at the Agricultural Outlook Forum that the BSE index cow was a downer. Compiled by staff

Published on: Feb 19, 2004

The House Agriculture Committee has heard testimony from three workers at Vern's Moses Lake Meats who all say the cow that tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was not nonambulatory. At the 2004 Agricultural Outlook Forum, USDA Secretary Ann Veneman supports the initial reports that the animal was a downer cow, but is being investigated by the proper authorities.

The House Agriculture Committee wrote a letter to the Secretary questioning whether the animal was a downer animal. Veneman remarks that "it is important to point out that we are testing, we found the cow and we are dealing with the situation."

She goes on to say, "our veterinary records from our veterinarian who was at the plant clearly state that the cow was a downer." In testimonies before both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees David Louthan, former Vern's Moses Lake employee, testified that the animal could walk on its own and wouldn't have been tested had he not killed it outside the slaughterhouse, which triggers automatic BSE testing under a plant policy.

Louthan has repeatedly alleged in media interviews that the USDA rewrote a veterinary report about the Holstein after the agency learned the animal did have BSE. His proof--no rectal temperature was taken of the animal which is next to impossible to obtain from a jumpy animal, but easy from a fallen animal.

Veneman adds, "I would note that our Office of the Inspector General has been looking into this issue since the issue first appeared in the press and I think that’s the appropriate place for it to be addressed."