Cattlemen Recommend Overhaul of Food Safety Policies

Cow in Natural Habitat, Best for Food Safety

Cow in Natural Habitat, Best for Food Safety

R-CALF to Congress: Support Independent Farmers and Ranchers

by Max Thornsberry, President of the Board of Directors, R-CALF

Part 3 of 3

Click here to start with part 1

The three destructive components of our current food safety strategy listed above – 1) the replacement of independent farmers and ranchers with industrialized food production units; 2) the uncritical acceptance of and adherence to international standards; and, 3) the uncritical adoption of the international-based HACCP strategy, which is now proven to produce fatal food – are the root causes of today’s food safety problems. Any attempt to remedy our food safety problems by merely building upon these failed components as was done in the House Act would result in complete failure.

R-CALF USA implores the U.S. Senate to take immediate steps to correct and reverse the three above-listed fundamental deficiencies to our current food safety policies. Once these deficiencies are corrected, Congress must reestablish the food safety standards previously weakened when Congress acquiesced to international standards and then direct the agencies responsible for food safety to immediately begin hands-on inspection and enforcement of U.S. food safety standards for all imported food products, as well as for both domestic and global food processing facilities where food contamination is known to frequently occur.

Congress should accord international standards no more weight than is accorded other food safety standard recommendations, such as those established in studies by  U.S. land grant universities . Under no circumstances should the U.S. Senate presume that international standards – which are specifically designed to facilitate trade – are appropriate standards to be imposed on U.S. farmers and ranchers or that HACCP is an acceptable means of restoring food safety at processing facilities where food safety problems are known to originate. International standards should be viewed as no more than an available reference for Administrative agencies and should not be referenced or cited in U.S. food safety statutes.

The U.S. Senate should not take any action to impose any additional regulatory burdens on any U.S. farmer or rancher, including any requirement to register their farms and ranches with the federal government or to participate in a federally mandated food traceability program.

If the U.S. Senate suspects that a particular segment of independent farmers and ranchers is  contributing to food safety problems (as was obviously the case in the House Act that proposed new regulatory burdens for farmers that grow fruits, vegetables, nuts and fungi), then the Senate must conduct a comprehensive risk and hazard analysis to determine the specific practice(s) that caused or contributed to the food safety problem and the specific type of farming operation involved in that practice (i.e., an independent farming operation or an industrialized food production unit) to determine the specific corrective actions needed.

Individual U.S. farmers and ranchers deserve no less from Congress than to be presumed careful, conscientious, and law abiding food producers – a reputation earned by them while feeding this great nation during the past two centuries. The House Act is void of this basic respect.

R-CALF USA firmly believes that H.R. 2749 or any comparable legislation would exacerbate our mounting food safety problems because it builds upon, rather than corrects, the three fundamentally flawed components of our current food production system. R-CALF USA has conducted a section-by-section analysis of the direct and indirect affect H.R. 2749 likely would have on U.S. cattle farmers and ranchers and we invite you to view that analysis on our Web site at under the food safety link.


R.M. Thornsberry, D.V.M
President of the Board

Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2

Max Thornsberry, D.V.M., is R-CALF USA’s President of the Board of Directors and Region VI Director. Dr. Thornsberry and his wife Brenda reside in Richland, Mo. Thornsberry is the owner and manager of TNT Cattle Co., a certified feeder calf preconditioning enterprise, as well as Avanco Feeds, a veterinary and nutrition firm that serves beef, dairy, swine and companion animal owners in central Missouri.

Thornsberry has a B.S. in Agriculture and a minor in Chemistry from the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture. In 1977, Thornsberry received his D.V.M. from University of Missouri’s College of Veterinary Medicine.  In 1992, Thornsberry acquired his M.B.A. at California Coast University in Santa Ana, Calif.
Thornsberry is a past president of both the Missouri Stockgrower’s Association and the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association. He also is a current member of the Academy of Veterinary Consultants and the American Veterinary Medical Association, among other organizations throughout the country.

R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. R-CALF USA represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on trade and marketing issues. Members are located across 47 states and are primarily cow/calf operators, cattle backgrounders, and/or feedlot owners. R-CALF USA directors and committee chairs are extremely active unpaid volunteers. R-CALF USA has dozens of affiliate organizations and various main-street businesses are associate members. For more information, visit or, call 406-252-2516.

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