One thing you can count on from R-CALF USA – they’ll say exactly what they think. The organization’s latest release, distributed Thursday, takes an exceptionally confrontational tone, accusing the USDA of corruption, lies, perjury and a conspiracy to intentionally expose U.S. cattle and consumers to BSE.
The release is in regard to a proposed rule from USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) titled “Bovine spongiform encephalopathy – Importation of bovines and bovine products.” APHIS published the proposed rule in the Federal Register in March, with a comment period scheduled to end on May 21. R-CALF, in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week, requests for the fourth time, an extension to the comment period. APHIS did extend the initial comment period to June 14 (yesterday), but R-CALF wants more time to review the rule’s details.
Stakeholder groups frequently request extensions to comment periods on federal rules, but the wording of the letter takes it beyond the typical request for more time.
“The most plausible explanation for your refusal (to extend the comment period) is that you do not want to give the public sufficient time to discover the dishonest and corrupt nature of your Proposed Rule,” writes R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard. “Your agency is wholly lacking in accountability, credibility and integrity,” he continues. “It is impossible for the public interest to even be considered, let alone protected, by an agency that resorts to outright lies in order to further its own political agenda.”
In evidence of the agency’s alleged perjury, R-CALF points to a statement in the proposed rule that reads: “Moreover, although our model predicts a vanishingly low level of possible human exposure via tonsils, we have not stated that the risk is ‘eliminated’.” According to the letter, a USDA official addressing a District Court in Montana in 2005 said “Furthermore, the possibility that infectivity from tonsils can contaminate the tongue at slaughter is eliminated by current slaughter techniques.”
“Your agency has perjured itself in its pursuit of your political agenda to expose U.S. cattle and the public to an increased risk of BSE,” Bullard writes.
In the letter, R-CALF requests that USDA extend the comment period for the Proposed Rule for at least 60 days following the completion of USDA's epidemiological investigation of the recently detected BSE case in California, saying this would allow adequate time for thorough and meaningful comments.
As of late Thursday, there was no indication whether USDA would grant R-CALF’s request for an extended comment period.
Access the Proposed Rule from USDA/APHIS.