May 23, 2008
May 23, 2008 - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer in a statement on Tuesday announced his intention to ban the slaughter of all non-ambulatory cattle, also known as downer cattle.
"Today I am announcing that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will begin working on a proposed rule to prohibit the slaughter of all disabled non-ambulatory cattle. In other words, I am calling for the end of the exceptions in the so called 'downer rule,'" stated Schafer in his statement.
"The current rule, which focuses on cattle that went down after they have already passed pre-slaughter inspection, has been challenging to communicate and has, at times, been confusing to consumers.
"To maintain consumer confidence in the food supply, eliminate further misunderstanding of the rule and, ultimately, to make a positive impact on the humane handling of cattle, I believe it is sound policy to simplify this matter by initiating a complete ban on the slaughter of downer cattle that go down after initial inspection.
"Food Safety and Inspection Service will draft a proposed rule to remove the exception that allows certain injured cattle to proceed to slaughter. This action is expected to provide additional efficiencies to food safety inspection by removing the step that requires inspection workforce to determine when non-ambulatory cattle are safe to slaughter."
There was no mention of deadlines or how long the process will take for the development or the enforcement of this proposed rule.