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Good Reads, Politics

USDA Opposes Free Market Capitalism to Protect Naive American Consumers

Japan is a country lamentably deficient in delicious cows. And while they may console themselves with delicious morsels of raw fish on rice, there is a sizeable demand for beef, and they are willing to pay top yen for imports.

But for such money, the Japanese want to be damn certain they are importing beef that will not melt their brains. Since Mad Cow disease was detected in the USA’s cattle supply, they have required that any American imports be tested. Does this not seem prudent?

And so, in order to re-gain access to a valuable export market, Creekstone Farms, in the Red State of Kansas, built a laboratory next to their slaughterhouse, and trained employees to conduct tests.

You can read the story here, but the upshot is that the USDA will not allow Creekstone to test their beef. Why would the USDA refuse to allow a company to test its beef? Would this somehow put consumers at risk for, say, CJD?

On April 9, the United States Department of Agriculture forbade Creekstone to test its cattle, saying there was “no scientific justification” for testing young steers like those Creekstone sells. Certifying some beef for Japan as disease-free, the department said, might confuse American consumers into thinking that untested beef was not safe.

Is there a scientific justification for not allowing Creekstone to test? None given. There is a market-driven justification for testing, and the USDA is making a market-determined justification to prohibit testing – and that aint right.

This will ultimately hurt the American beef industry, even if exports are some day resumed. Why? Well, as OPEC discovered during the Arab Oil Embargo, scarcity encourages conservation. If the Japanese can not eat American beef, they will lose their taste for it, and have less desire to resume their consumption when it returns to market. The real losers here are the people who work in the American Beef Industry, who will have fewer jobs and lower prices for their product.

If you ask me, I’d be happy to pay extra for tested beef, whether such testing is legal or not. Like many young Americans, I have not maintained consistent health insurance these past few years, and I would be glad to pay a little extra for not-melting-my-brian insurance. But that is a different crisis ignored by our national leadership.

Those Democrats better say some reasonable stuff during their convention, I tell ye. If they don’t, well, I was able to read one of those Japanese words in the New York Times article … perhaps I should to move to some country where health insurance is compulsory and all the beef is tested for mad cow.

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Categories: Good Reads, Politics