cattle, mad cow disease, USDA, testing, creekstone farms, beef, food safety The U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn’t want to test more than 1% of cattle for mad-cow disease, and it doesn’t want anybody else to do it either. Who cares about customers and the companies that might want to please them? The USDA won its appellate round in court; justices ruled that the agency had the authority to stop beef producer Creekstone Farms from testing under a nearly century-old law that was intended to keep cattlemen from feeding bad medicine to their animals.

With the feds unwilling to do more consumer protection and private industry unable to, what happens now? The case heads back to the lower court, which could still rule in Creekstone’s favor under other arguments — for example, if it found that the USDA was arbitrary or capricious in stopping Creekstone. Truth is, the agency’s decision wasn’t really either of those. It’s simply wrong-headed and panders to the larger beef industry that doesn’t want Creekstone giving it competition that might push other producers into doing the same.

The testing might well be unnecessary, as the USDA argues. But it’s not going to hurt the meat, so what’s USDA’s beef with catering to people who worry about such things and are willing to pay the little extra for peace of mind?

It’s for your own good. It’s for your own good. It’s for your own good.

Even if the USDA is correct and the testing unnecessary how could anyone advocate the restriction? If Creekstone Farms goes under due to higher beef costs… so what?