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Mad Cow:
Family Farmers, Cattle and Consumers
are Victims of Corporate Greed

National Family Farm Coalition
Washington, D.C.

family farm cattle
Cattle on a family farm in Missouri line up for feed. Photo by Nic Paget-Clarke.
December 26, 2003 -- In the wake of the recent announcement of finding an animal infected with Mad Cow in the United States, the National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC), today is issuing a call for major changes in the nation’s food and farm policy that can restore confidence in the nation’s food supply. “Family farmers and ranchers will be unfairly hurt by this news, that’s for sure,” stated George Naylor, president of the Coalition, and member of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, “but this is only the latest example of how our corporate dominated food system sacrifices the needs of family farmers and consumers to the corporate demand for cheaper and cheaper farm products.”

The NFFC, with over 30 member groups in the U.S., is calling for policies that bolster production on family farms and ranches where cattle can be raised and fed in healthy, humane circumstances. Industrial livestock production practices, such as using the cheapest feed ingredients from all over the world, has lead to the decline of family farms, animal health, and consumer confidence. It is believed that the cow suffering from BSE probably became infected by eating feed that contained bone, protein, or blood meal from an infected cow of unknown origin. “Livestock are being fed questionable products that most sensible people would condemn out of hand, such as chicken manure containing traces of chicken feed laced with rendered cattle,” stated John Kinsman, an organic Wisconsin dairy farmer, vice president of NFFC. “We produce beautiful hay and feed right here on the farm and wouldn’t think of feeding our animals such crap.”

“Our government officials in USDA, Congress, and the White House are just too cozy with the big corporations that have no other concern but their bottom line,” stated Bill Christison, former president of NFFC, current president of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center (MRCC), and a cattle producer from Chillicothe, Missouri. “Consumers are waking up, though, and buying their food directly from family farmers or stores that know how the food is raised,” he continued. The MRCC, like many Coalition groups, are assisting this farmer-consumer relationship, but are demanding changes in government policy so every consumer can be confident their food is being raised on family farms with the consumer’s health a top priority.

“Globalization of the food supply, through NAFTA, WTO, and CAFTA, will only lead to more food quality crises, including contamination from pesticide residue and disease organisms,” expressed Dena Hoff, NFFC’s Trade Taskforce Chair, board member of the Northern Plains Resource Council, and farmer from Montana. “Mandatory country of origin labeling should be funded by Congress so consumers know where their food comes from and real quality can be the issue, not corporate profits.”

The National Family Farm Coalition calls on Secretary Veneman to conduct a swift investigation with remedies that put the interests of family farmers and consumers ahead of corporate profits. “Family farmers and consumers around the world are demanding “food sovereignty” so that each nation’s farm system can be managed to produce quality food on family farms for that nation’s consumers. If our great democracy can’t hear that message, then this case of Mad Cow will be just the beginning,” emphasized Naylor.

For more information: contact the National Family Farm Coalition at

Published in In Motion Magazine December 29, 2003

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