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More mad cow precautions urged

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The National Farmers Union called on the government to take additional precautions to stabilize domestic and export beef markets because of mad cow disease.

Agriculture Secretary Anne M. Veneman Tuesday announced downer cattle, animals that are too unsteady to stand at slaughterhouses, would be banned from the human food chain. Use of head, brain, spinal tissue and small intestines of animals old enough to have consumed banned feed will no longer permitted.

The National Farmers Union sent a letter to President George W. Bush urging USDA to protect the beef supply by immediately banning the processing, blending and shipment of meat from animals tested for bovine spongiform encephalopathy until results are available, suspension of beef imports from Canada, mandatory country-of-origin labeling of meat, and emergency assistance for beef producers suffering market losses.

Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., plans to propose legislation mandating computer chip tracking of cattle to ensure meat safety. He says the mad cow case in Washington State could end the industry's opposition to change.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International

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