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Mad Cow And Idaho’s Beef Trade


Tests results this week confirmed mad cow disease in California.  This announcement could have an economic impact on Idaho’s beef industry. 

The U.S. beef industry took a major hit about nine years ago when mad cow disease was found in a Canadian cow in Washington state.  That’s because markets like Japan and South Korea closed their doors to U.S. exports soon after.  John Clifford is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Chief Veterinarian.  He says this most recent case is different.  "The impact should not affect exports.  Now, I’m not saying it may or may not, but it should not," according to Clifford.   He  says the California case is rare. The disease wasn’t spread by infected feed. 

U.S. beef exports have rebounded to 2003 levels, but that could be short lived.  Two major Korean retailers announced Wednesday they would stop selling U.S. beef.  Wyatt Prescott is Executive Vice President of the Idaho Cattle Association.  He says it too soon to tell what will happen in major markets.   "We will know more here in the next week or two as to what’s going to happen with our trading relationships," according to Prescott.

U.S. beef exports totaled more than $4 billion last year according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.  Idaho’s meat exports, including beef, totaled about $2.5 million in 2011. 

Copyright 2012 Boise State Public Radio.