USDA expects BSE rules to cost up to $149 million


Apr 7, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that recent regulations designed to keep bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) infectivity out of the food supply will cost the beef industry from $110 million to $149 million a year.

The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today released a preliminary impact analysis on the regulations, which include a ban on the use of "downer" cattle for human food. The rules were announced in December, a week after the discovery of the nation's first BSE case in Washington state, and took effect in mid-January.

"Because of the emergency nature of the regulations, FSIS did not include analyses of costs and benefits or the effects of the rules on small business at the time of their release," the FSIS said in a news release.

Besides banning nonambulatory cattle from the food supply, the FSIS regulations call for:

  • Avoiding the use of certain high-risk cattle tissues, or "specified risk materials" (SRMs), for human food
  • Withholding carcasses tested for BSE from further processing until the test results are available and are negative
  • Ensuring that advanced meat recovery (AMR) systems do not process SRMs and that boneless meat does not contain nerve tissue or excess levels of bone solids or bone marrow
  • Ending the use of certain stunning methods

The FSIS estimates the total annual costs of the ban on downer cattle and the SRM and AMR regulations at $110.3 million to $149.1 million. The figure includes $27.6 million for changes in hazard analysis and critical control point plans and record-keeping requirements.

The ban on certain stunning devices is not expected to cost any money because the devices are no longer used, the FSIS said.

The FSIS estimates its annual cost for increased inspection, testing, and surveillance for BSE at $3 million a year, but this does not include the effect of FSIS measures on programs of other USDA agencies. In March the USDA announced plans to greatly increase BSE testing to include hundreds of thousands of cattle per year, compared with about 20,000 cattle in 2003.

The agency is inviting comments on the preliminary impact analysis until May 7. Also, it has extended the comment period for the regulations themselves until the same date.

See also:

Apr 7 FSIS news release, with an address for commenting on the impact analysis

Text of FSIS impact analysis (62 pages)

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