The Right Coast

March 17, 2004
Mad Cows or Crazy Bureaucrats?
By Mike Rappaport

The New York Times reports on the new rules for testing cows for mad cow disease. According to risk analysis, the new regime will test half of the downer cows and should detect mad cow disease even if it is present in only 5 of the 45 million cows in the nation. That sounds pretty good. But wait. How much is dependent on enforcement? Do the farmers have to self identify the downer cows? The article does not answer these questions, and they are crucial. As
    Dave Louthan, the former slaughterhouse worker who killed the cow that turned out to be infected, said: "No farmer in his right mind will call them up and say, `I suspect I have a cow with B.S.E. — please come test it.' The farmer will dig a big hole in his back pasture and bury that cow."
Now, there is a man who understands the way the world works. Let's put him in charge of the Agriculture Department.