Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will hold a roundtable discussion on June 9 regarding the safety of North American beef and the changing infrastructure of the industry.  Johanns noted that data illustrating the success of USDA's enhanced BSE surveillance program will be part of the roundtable discussion entitled "The Safety of North American Beef and the Economic Effect of BSE on the U.S. Beef Industry."

"It is time to clearly present the science that underlies the safety of North American beef and examine the changing infrastructure of the industry," Johanns said. "It is remarkable that we've not found a single new case of BSE throughout our year-long aggressive search. Now it is time to put into perspective for producers, processors, and decision-makers the facts and the future implications of the course we are following."

The enhanced surveillance program targets the population of animals in which BSE is most likely to be detected, including non-ambulatory or downer animals, animals exhibiting signs of a central nervous system disorder or any other signs that could be consistent with BSE and animals that die from unknown causes.   More than 350,000 animals have been tested and all have been negative. 

The event will bring together USDA experts, producers, packers, other industry groups and academia to discuss the science of BSE and the economic impacts on the U.S. beef industry.

The roundtable discussion will be open to the public and held on Thursday, June 9, from 9:30-2:30 at the Andrew Boss Laboratory, University of Minnesota, St. Paul campus, St. Paul, MN.   Potential participants will receive invitations.