Oklahoma beef rancher not worried about the 'Mad Cow' case in the northwestern US

Wednesday, December 24th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Oklahoma is the nation's 5th largest beef producer. It's a $2-billion industry in our state. So there's a lot at stake when you mentioned the words "Mad Cow."

News on 6 business reporter Steve Berg talked with a local rancher who says he's not worried about his health or the health of the industry.

Joe Don Eaves says he believes the US government has moved aggressively to address the problem. He says it's been anticipated for a long time that Mad Cow would eventually surface in the US. And he says there are steps in place to deal with it.

For example, the quarantine of the herd in Washington state, and the recall of the suspect meat. He also says the parts that carry Mad Cow disease like the brain and spinal column, are removed before meat is processed.

Still, just the fear is enough for other countries to ban American beef. But he says that won't hurt the US as much as it did Canada earlier this year. "Canada is about 60% of their beef is exported which here in the United States, only about 10% of our beef is exported."

Officials say there is a slightly higher risk with ground beef than there is with whole cuts of meat, but even then, they say the risk is miniscule.

Eaves says he had a roast beef sandwich from Arby's Tuesday, and he says he's serving beef for Christmas dinner.