Mad Cow Tests Negative

Two confirmatory laboratory tests on an animal suspected of having mad cow disease (BSE) came back negative, the USDA reported last week.

"The USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, IA, determined that the inconclusive screening test sample reported on Nov. 18 has tested negative for BSE upon confirmatory testing,” the USDA said in a news release.

“NVSL used the immunohistochemistry (IHC) test, an internationally-recognized gold standard test for BSE, and received a negative result on Nov. 22,” the release said. “Because the Nov. 18 screening test results were reactive in both the first and second screens, NVSL scientists made the recommendation to run the IHC test a second time. On Nov. 23 they reported the second IHC test was negative.”

The news should be supportive for Chicago Mercantile Exchange cattle futures on Wednesday, but the market has already gained back much of the ground it lost last Thursday after the “inconclusive” screening test results were reported.

Live cattle futures rallied sharply last week after talk that the BSE tests were negative reached the trading floor just before the market opened. The circumstances may warrant an investigation into whether information was improperly leaked to the market.

Confirmation of the positive test may also take pressure of the corn futures market, which has been concerned about feed demand.

Because the BSE tests were negative, USDA will not likely release any details about the case, such as where the animal was discovered or how old it was.

Editors note: Richard Brock, The Corn and Soybean Digest's Marketing Editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.

To see more market perspectives, visit Brock's Web site at www.brockreport.com.