What you don’t want for Christmas

Reports”:http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c=StoryFT&cid=1071251758649&p=1045050946495 of a pre­sumed case of BSE (“Mad Cow Dis­ease”)in Wash­ing­ton state. bq. Ann Ven­e­man, agri­cul­ture sec­re­tary, said a sin­gle Hol­stein cow from a farm in Wash­ing­ton state test­ed “pre­sump­tive pos­i­tive” after it went to slaugh­ter as a “down­er”, an ani­mal too sick to walk. Results are await­ed from a sam­ple sent by a US mil­i­tary air­craft for fur­ther test­ing in the UK. The impact on mar­ket and con­sumers would be very hard on the US indus­try: a sin­gle case ear­li­er this year has so-far cost the Cana­di­an indus­try an esti­mat­ed 2 bil­lion dol­lars. The US last year export­ed more beef than any oth­er coun­try (almost 4 bil­lion dol­lars worth). The impact in Korea and Japan—the US major beef markets—would prob­a­bly favor Aus­tralia, the world’s sec­ond biggest beef exporter. But Aus­tralian sup­ply is not eas­i­ly adjust­ed upward to meet demand: our beef indus­try is still recov­er­ing from the worst drought in a cen­tu­ry. Also, Aus­tralian export beef types and cuts are very dif­fer­ent from those of the the US. If the case is con­firmed, plan on pay­ing more for a steak—maybe a lot more—wher­ev­er you live.

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