House approves $1M for Rancho Feeding probe
by Meat&Poultry Staff
WASHINGTON – The US House of Representatives authorized $1 million in additional funding to help the US Department of Agriculture complete its investigation into Petaluma, Calif.-based Rancho Feeding Corp.
Reps. Mike Thompson and Jared Huffman, both representing districts in California, spearheaded the amendment which transfers funds from the USDA Departmental Administration account to the USDA Office of the Inspector General.
“With the Rancho recall, I witnessed firsthand the need for USDA’s inspectors to have more resources so they can conduct better and more efficient investigations,” Thompson said. “From the beginning of the Rancho recall, public safety has been our number one concern. We can’t let food get out that puts the health and safety of the American public at risk. That is why it is important that the Office of Inspector General has sufficient resources so they can do their job and ensure our food is safe. This amendment provides them with that support.”
Rancho Feeding is under criminal investigation by the federal government for killing and selling meat from dairy cows that allegedly had eye cancer. The company allegedly bought cows with eye cancer, and employees removed the heads and trimmed diseased parts so inspectors couldn't detect the disease. Rancho Feeding recalled more than 8 million lbs. of meat, one of the largest beef recalls in years.
The federal probe also uncovered an inappropriate relationship between a federal meat inspector and a plant foreman. Marin Sun Farms, a specialty meat purveyor in Point Reyes Station, Calif., successfully acquired Rancho Feeding's slaughterhouse.
“The Rancho recall clearly demands a serious investigation. Many of my ranching constituents are facing serious financial losses and they can’t get any information from USDA about what happened. We have more information from CNN than we have gotten from USDA — this is completely unacceptable,” Huffman said. “The public has a right to know what happened, how the process broke down, and who will be held responsible for it. Our amendment ensures the USDA Inspector General’s office has the resources needed to swiftly complete the investigation, close the case, and ensure we get answers so we can prevent this from happening again.”