Monday, December 29, 2003
Mad Cow Politics - Money Talks
The dairy industry, which opposed a ban on selling meat from "downed animals," won nearly unanimous support in a close vote from key House members it contributed to this year.
Political action committees representing dairy farmers gave money to 33 of the 51 members of the House Agriculture Committee, an Associated Press review of campaign reports shows.
Of the 33, 28 voted against the ban on marketing downers — cows too sick or injured to walk on their own — while four voted for the ban and one didn't vote. The House defeated the measure, 202-199, in July.
The Senate approved the ban on a voice vote in November, but it was left out of the final compromise spending bill passed by the House this month and awaiting action in the Senate
During floor debate in July, Stenholm lectured New York Democrat Gary Ackerman, author of the proposed ban in the House, that he did "not understand the cattle business," and argued that most downed animals are merely lame.
Ackerman now says that Agriculture Committee members thought they were protecting the cattle industry but wound up hurting it.
Fast food chains such as Wendy's, Burger King and McDonald's don't accept meat from downed animals, and the Agriculture Department prohibits it in the federal school lunch program.