State gets grant to prevent mad cow disease

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Posted Dec 05, 2008 @ 07:14 AM

Illinois farm regulators expect to conduct 400 inspections and 1,000 feed tests the next two years with the aid of a nearly $500,000 federal grant intended to protect the domestic beef industry from mad cow disease.

The grant was announced Thursday.

Three cases of the brain-wasting disease have been reported in the United States since the first was reported in Washington state in 2003. None have been reported in Illinois.

Its important not only for the safety of people, but also for the export of beef, said Jim Larkin, bureau chief for agricultural product inspections at the Illinois Department of Agriculture in Springfield.

Larkin said seven other states Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Nebraska and Kansas are participating in the cooperative program of enhanced feed inspections .

The USDA early this year approved rules for banning high-risk animal parts, including brains and spinal cords from older cattle, from use in feed, including pet food. The USDA has given livestock, feed, rendering and meat producers until April 2009 to prepare for the new standards.

Illinois ranked fifth nationwide in meat exports last year, including beef, with sales of $405 million, according state figures. Total domestic and export sales from 19,700 cattle farms totaled $2 billion.

Were trying to provide assurance that Illinois beef is safe. Its also a reminder to producers to follow best practices. ... There are very serious financial implications here, said department spokesman Jeff Squibb.

Larkin said inspections in the next two years in Illinois would include 300 farms and 150 related industries.



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