By TV Hagenah
It is Quay County Extension Agent Pete Walden’s opinion that there is nothing to fear in regard to the nation’s Mad Cow scare except the proverbial “fear itself.”
“Indications are,” said Walden, “that the cow came from Canada and it ate the feed before the ban took effect.”
Walden said anyone going in and ordering a steak at any restaurant anywhere in the United States was in no way a threat and it is especially true in the Southwest.
The extension agent pointed out that in the U.S. neither the brain nor the spinal column are permitted to be used as any sort of food source and that is the source of the contamination in the single cow found so far.
“The sad part is that the cattle market is taking a big hit,” said Walden. “It’s dropping the limit.”
The Quay county extension agent said that he was certain that the market plunge would only temporary and would be on its way back up as soon as the Washington state scare was taken care of.
“I think it (the cattle market) will rebound as soon as people are made aware of the whole situation,” said Walden. “It’s just right now they are frightened. They’ve just got to learn how safe the meat really is.”
Walden said that same point of view had to be grasped by the United State’s trading partners.
Philip Seng of the U.S. Meat Export Federation agreed with Walden’s view of the situation.
“Unfortunately, most of our trading partners have take immediate action to temporarily and totally close their borders to U.S. beef. Beef exports last year were valued at more than $3.2 billion and were on track to exceed that level in 2003.”
Walden said he was especially fearful as to the effect on the local cattlemen during the downturn for the cattle market.
“I’m afraid the rancher will take a hit for a while,” said Walden. “Hopefully, it is only for a short while. That unfortunate because he was just recovering from taking a hit.
Walden said some good could come out of the Mad Cow scare. He said for years American producers had been asking legislators and governmental agencies to require national Identification for all things related to cattle and to have country of origin on all cattle products but the government “has dragged their feet”, now Walden anticipates it is not that far away.
In fact, earlier this week, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson called for a better cattle tracking system to keep track of cattle.