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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Mad Cow Fears in United States

Aired May 21, 2003 - 19:19   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Joining us now from Calgary is Randy Kaiser. He is owner of CrossVenture Livestock. And he is here to tell us exactly what this might mean to one businessman, one cow affecting one businessman.
Randy, thanks for joining us this evening.

RANDY KAISER, OWNER, CROSSVENTURE LIVESTOCK: Hi.

KAGAN: First of all, the Canadian government is not saying exactly where this particular cow came from. So, off the top, let's just establish, this is not your cow that tested positive for mad cow disease.

KAISER: Yes, definitely not.

KAGAN: And yet, as I understand it, it came to affect you right away. You went to auction yesterday to try to sell a bunch of cows and it didn't exactly work out that way.

KAISER: No, it didn't. We hauled the cattle up and we ended up having to bring them home again. So it cost up us a few dollars for trucking and what not.

KAGAN: How is this going to affect your business?

KAISER: Well, at the moment, basically, our cattle are worth nothing, because we can't sell them, if we tried to. But I believe this thing is very much under control. The animal was a very individual case. And I think that it's going to be blown over in a very short time.

KAGAN: But here's the question that can't be answered right now, Randy. And I would just wonder if someone in your position is asking yourself the same question. Nobody knows, even if it's just this one cow, where this cow got mad cow disease from. So do you look at your own herd and wonder perhaps it's infected your own herd?

KAISER: No, I don't.

There are so many different aspects of this disease. It's supposedly brought on by being fed remnants of another animal that had died from the disease. Well, we don't feed anything like that. And very few ranches ever do. And even in that case, it's so minute of a chance of getting it that I don't have any concern whatsoever in our farm.

KAGAN: How about any concern about how the Canadian government is handling the situation?

KAISER: I feel really good. They've done a good job. It's gone really fast. It's something that had to happen, as well as the American border closing. But I believe that it will turn around very fast. There's no concern about the health of the product in mine mind whatsoever.

KAGAN: Well, we wish you well keeping a healthy livestock. Thanks for the input from Calgary. Much appreciated.

Randy Kaiser, thanks for joining us.

KAISER: Thank you.

KAGAN: Of course, this is not just a Canadian story. It poses a potentially serious threat to a lot of U.S. industries. You have ranchers, restaurants, grocery stores. And Memorial Day is right around the corner, cookouts just a few days away. A lot is on the line.

We brought Lauren Young over tonight, senior writer of "Smart Money" magazine. She is with us here.

Hello. Good to see you.

LAUREN YOUNG, "SMART MONEY": Hi.

KAGAN: When this news first broke about a day ago or so, we saw the stocks of things like McDonald's, Tyson Foods, Wendy's tank. But in the days since, how have they done?

YOUNG: They actually did OK today. It wasn't such a bad day. McDonald's was actually up today.

KAGAN: Really?

YOUNG: Because Lehman Brothers upgraded the stock, because they thought it was a buying opportunity. They really don't think that this is a big deal.

KAGAN: They don't? So you can see some of the reality or how people are perceiving the reality by looking at the stock market.

YOUNG: Right. And, so far, I think they're right.

So far, we don't really need to worry. But remember that, in Japan, when mad cow did break out in 2001, a few weeks after, when seven cows had been infected, basically, the floor fell out and people still have not returned to McDonald's. They're still not buying as many hamburgers.

KAGAN: In Japan. One interesting note about McDonald's, one reason that stock would have been affected, off of the top, they buy more beef than anyone else, any other company in the entire world.

YOUNG: A huge amount of beef. But, interestingly enough, keep in mind that, in the U.S., they do not use any Canadian beef. So Canadian beef is mainly used in Canada, the beef that they grow.

KAGAN: We were having a chance to visit before we went on the air. And you were pointing out, one thing that's interesting for the beef industry, beef sales are up. We are going to talk about the Atkins diet a little bit later with Dr. Gupta. People are into red meat.

YOUNG: That's right. We eat about 68 pounds per person in the U.S. in 2002.

KAGAN: That's a lot of cow, Lauren.

YOUNG: A lot of cow.

KAGAN: And no reason to see that that is going to dip at this point?

YOUNG: No, I think that this is really interesting.

It happened in January, OK? So this was in January. It was a very isolated incident, although it just came out right now. The other point is that, so far, we really haven't seen very much in terms of deaths, no human deaths link to this. So we don't have to worry about that. And it's very isolated. Now, if we have a few more cases in the next few weeks, we do have reason to worry.

KAGAN: That's where you have to watch. You will be tracking it.

YOUNG: That's right.

KAGAN: Lauren Young from "Smart Money" magazine," thanks for dropping by, giving us the business angle of the story. Much appreciated.

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