WASHINGTON — The National Cattlemen's Beef Association criticized the Food and Drug Administration's decision to press forward with an April 27 prohibition on specified risk materials in animal feed, despite a previously announced 60-day postponement and many objections from producers.
"This decision is extremely disappointing," said Dr. Elizabeth Parker, N.C.B.A. chief veterinarian. "By going ahead with implementation of this unnecessary ban, the F.D.A. is ignoring the substantial costs and environmental burdens it imposes on America’s cattle producers."
America’s livestock industry has made it clear to F.D.A. and the Administration for years that this rule would not help but further exacerbate the problems beef producers are already facing regarding carcass disposal. As early as December 2008, N.C.B.A. and beef producers throughout the country began voicing concerns about increased costs and disposal issues as many renderers discontinued their services in anticipation of this ban.
"Unless F.D.A. provides solutions for these problems, delaying the compliance date is an empty gesture," Ms. Parker said.
A compliance date of Oct. 26 was established by the F.D.A. to give renderers additional time to comply with the new regulations and allow producers more time to identify appropriate methods of disposal. However, N.C.B.A. charges they have not provided any means to resolve the disposal issues created by the rule.
"This amounts to an unfunded mandate," Ms. Parker said. "F.D.A. has acknowledged that this rule creates tremendous disposal issues for producers, yet they have not identified any viable solutions to that problem. Moving forward with implementation without addressing these concerns is irresponsible."
F.D.A. said in a pre-publication of the final rule that "the underlying bases for these new measures were fully considered through the notice and rulemaking process." Yet, the F.D.A. never completed a risk assessment to determine the costs and benefits of the new feed ban, N.C.B.A. points out.
"The rule creates significant costs and environmental problems, and has no demonstrable benefit," Ms. Parker continued. "Our existing feed ban has proven highly successful in limiting bovine spongiform encephalopathy in the U.S. herd."
The U.S. has prohibited ruminant feed from including parts of other ruminants since 1997. This proactive "ruminant-to-ruminant" feed ban, combined with other government and industry safeguards, is responsible for the extremely low-level risk of B.S.E. in the U.S., N.C.B.A. claims.
"This was confirmed by years of robust U.S.D.A. surveillance and reaffirmed by the U.S. ‘B.S.E. Controlled Risk’ designation by the World Organization for Animal Health (O.I.E.), the international animal health standard-setting body," N.C.B.A. relayed through a press release.