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Media Contact: Linda Wuebben, 402-357-3778 or Louis Day, 402-376-1538 or cell 402-376-5071

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - September 5, 2008

Mishandling of USDA Seals discovered in OIG Audit

Hyannis, NE –Hyannis – In March of this year, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) published an audit they had recently completed which investigated the USDA’s control over the importation and movement of live animals.

The results did not represent a stellar performance by the USDA. Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska (ICON) CEO Louis Day wants cattlemen and consumers alike to hear the truth.

“I want to bring to everyone’s attention an audit released by the USDA’s own office of the Inspector General,” said Day. “It brings to light the failure of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to meet its statutory duty to protect U.S. cattle herds and consumers against the introduction of foreign animal diseases.”

While investigating the USDA’s controls over the imports and movement of cattle within the United States boundaries, the OIG discovered suspicious handling of the USDA’s seals which are used to secure doors on shipments of animals already having been inspected. An unusually large number of seals were unaccounted for at five APHIS centers and five ports of entry. It was found each site had a different manner of tracking the seals. It could not always be determined if the seals were received, issued or used, and there were 14,000 seals unaccounted for. APHIS officials stated they had no knowledge of misuse of seals but alerted the centers to rectify the problem. It was only one of many examples of mishandled situations.

The OIG audit discovered the APHIS controls need to be strengthened when dealing with live imports of animals landing on United States soil. Live animal inspections were found lacking and animals were allowed to enter the United States even after they were rejected for health concerns.

Other areas found lacking include a system for tracking live animals after they are brought into the country. There was no follow-up procedure to verify restricted cattle or swine arrived at an approved slaughter establishment.

Over 142,000 cattle and swine from Canada were slaughtered in United States slaughtering facilities without proper import protocol procedures. Several ports-of-entry were not in compliance with import requirements and have not been reviewed at any time since 2002.

Incorrect import data was used by APHIS to determine patterns for changes in disease in the future.

“We at ICON feel there are some very serious infractions,” said Day. “It demonstrates the failure of the USDA-APHIS agency in performing it’s main duty – protecting the United States consumers and cattlemen.”

The ICON organization takes this audit’s result one step further by expressing concerns with the USDA’s position on the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). The inefficiency of APHIS and its control over live importation of livestock clearly shows how ineffective the agency would be if the NAIS program was implemented in the United States.

ICON directors and members are concerned with signing away their property rights to the USDA by registering their property with a premise ID. No guidelines are finalized and ICON members feel it is like giving them a blank check to make demands later on which may be unreasonable.

“Why should we as legal private citizens of the State of Nebraska voluntarily give away authority to a government agency or program which has no rules set in place?” Day said.

The OIG report can be found at or .



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