Mad cow, mad investors

There has been plenty to talk about in the world of agriculture this week.

The BSE discovery in California hit the forefront. Corn and soybeans and the battle for acres as well as the anticipation of what will be found from next week's wheat crop tours are all subjects that could have surely been the latest "coffee shop" talk. The USDA is in the process of finding the origin of the dairy cow found to have been infected with the "atypical" version of BSE.

The first time there was a discovery of Mad Cow disease in the US, exports to other countries plunged by 82 percent. Eight years later, it seems as though this recent incident may do little to stop shipments from surging to a record for a second straight year. Exports to countries such as Mexico, China and Japan are forecasted to jump more than six percent this year and estimated to be valued at around $4.7 billion.

All this, even after the report of the latest BSE incident. Detection of the tainted carcass before it entered the human food chain should bolster confidence that U.S. meat is safe, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization said yesterday, as cattle prices rebounded in Chicago. Canada, Mexico, Japan and South Korea, the four biggest buyers of U.S. beef, said they won't halt purchases, bolstering prospects for agricultural exports that are a foundation of President Barack Obama's goal of doubling U.S. sales overseas by 2015.

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