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An Open Letter to Secretary Johanns

Put a Photo of Mad Cow #2 on a Milk Carton

by JOHN STAUBER

Dear Secretary Johanns,

Is there any truth to the rumor that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will soon print a photo of U.S. mad cow #2 ("Cow Jane Doe") onto the side panel of milk cartons?

Is it true that the USDA is so lost and desperate to find the herd she came from that you are turning to the tried-and-true milk carton method? Are you hoping that some member of the milk-drinking or cow-milking public will recognize her image on a carton and call you?

Using the milk carton method sounds like a good idea at this oh-so-late date, seven months after this mad cow first tested positive, and seven months after she then tested negative at your state-of-the-art (and I do mean art!) USDA lab.

Lots of news reports have suggested that Cow Jane Doe was from Texas, so you could probably save taxpayer money by just printing her picture on Lone Star State milk cartons. (Maybe she belonged to some of the those tough Texas cattlemen who sued Oprah for trying to warn us about mad cow in the USA back in 1996; that would be sweet western justice, indeed!)

Just have USDA print these words under her bovine image on the milk carton: "Do you recognize me? I’m a mad cow probably from Texas. If I look familiar, please call USDA Secretary Mike Johanns at 1-800-MadCow#2 and tell him all about me."

Finally, is anyone’s USDA job on the line for gross incompetence and suspected corruption in this case of the missing mad cow? Or is this one of those national security-type snafus where nobody is held accountable and whoever should be will instead receive a Medal of Freedom from former Texas governor George Bush?

Inquiring minds want to know!

Sincerely,

JOHN STAUBER

JOHN STAUBER works for the Center for Media and Democracy, a nonprofit organization based in Madison, Wisconsin. He is the co-author of Mad Cow USA.