March 31, 2006 -- Although Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has said he wants to scale back testing of American cattle herds for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), he indicated Monday that he first wants to persuade Japan to resume imports of U.S. beef before finalizing a timeline.
During a press conference, Johanns told reporters that in addition to consulting with disease experts, the United States will discuss BSE testing with Japan and other trading partners, before deciding on reduced surveillance. He indicated a decision will probably not come soon.
Currently, about 1,000 tests are performed daily, compared with about 55 in 2003, before the first U.S. case of BSE was diagnosed. Under the department's budget proposal, about 110 tests would be performed daily or 40,000 tests annually. Officials say the number is merely a placeholder for budgeting purposes.