Is this a success for the meat industry?
Current rules ban meat from "downer" cows, which are too weak or injured or ill to stand on their own when they arrive at the plant. In the recent Hallmark case, cows were apparently on their feet when they arrived at the plant, but collapsed before slaughter. They were supposed to be reinspected by a veterinarian, who would determine if they could be slaughtered, but this was apparently not done. Such cows may carry a heightened risk of "mad cow disease," and even if they are free from that affliction, their bodies may now be contaminated with other pathogens.
Public interest groups recommend that such cows simply be banned from the human food supply. USDA sided with the meat industry's lobbyists, who opposed this recommended ban.
Why would the meat industry even want a headline that says, "USDA Rejects 'Downer' Cow Ban"? Surely, only a small fraction of cows are healthy enough to walk through the plant gates but later collapse. In the midst of a crisis of public confidence in USDA oversight of the meat supply, this headline will confirm to most readers that USDA lacks the power and willpower to protect us and our schoolchildren. The headline strikes the same odd chord that readers will recall from earlier articles about USDA's action to prevent Creekstone Beef from voluntarily testing its own meat for the pathogen that causes "mad cow disease."
The meat industry's lobbyists and USDA officials do not serve the industry's hard-working cattle producers and meat processors well with this decision. Befuddled, I can only imagine there are perverse incentives for the lobbyists to take extreme positions that heighten their reputation as street fighters, even in situations where statesmen capable of crafting policy compromises and winning back consumer confidence would serve the industry's own interests better.