While nobody argues with R-CALF's right to challenge USDA's expansion, the industry was dismayed at the group's celebratory press release that was nothing short of an all-out frontal assault questioning the safety of our food supply. The following is a few of the statements that were made:
"USDA was playing fast and loose with the safety and health of U.S. consumers, and the judge put a stop to it; This is a huge victory for food safety for U.S. consumers; We don't understand why USDA insists that U.S. consumers should be subjected to increased health risks by disregarding our current science-based disease prevention standards."
There were many other statements that could have had no other aim but to destroy consumer confidence in our product -- terms like "higher-risk products," etc. It's more than just a grave error in judgment to undo all the work the industry has done to restore and maintain consumer confidence in beef.
While we have become accustomed to having radical anti-beef groups like People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals make these kinds of statements, the media and consumers have also learned to discount them. The sad thing is these types of factually incorrect statements are taken seriously when leveled from a group said to be representing cattlemen.
Certainly, I understand these attacks on consumer confidence in beef were designed to make it tougher politically for the government to follow the science and trade policies with which R-CALF doesn't agree. But, we all should be in lockstep to make it abundantly clear that our product is perfectly safe.
This type of rhetoric and behavior goes way beyond normal and understandable policy disagreements between cattlemen with the industry's best interest at heart. It's more reflective of the type of radical activist group that cares far more about its agenda than cattlemen as a whole. As a result, what should have been a celebration for the R-CALF organization, became one its darkest hours.