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Creekstone Farms Premium Beef

Creekstone Farms Premium Beef

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Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, LLC is a beef processing company located in Arkansas City, KS. The company was founded in 1995 by John and Carol Stewart. Originally a purebred Black Angus farm in Campbellsburg, KY, Creekstone Farms entered the processing business in 2003 with the purchase of a 450000 square feet (41,806.4 m²) processing plant in Arkansas City, KS. The company began processing Creekstone Farms Premium Black Angus cattle in May of 2003. In the spring of 2004, Creekstone Farms launched an additional line of Black Angus products - Creekstone Farms Natural Black Angus Beef. John Stewart retired from the company in October 2007 and Creekstone Farms is currently owned by Sun Capital Partners, Inc., a leading investment firm. When Mr. Stewart retired, he retained ownership of the farm in Kentucky, which has since been sold and no longer is connected to the Creekstone Farms brand.

Creekstone Farms is known for its attempt to test all of its beef for bovine spongiform encephalopathy
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy , commonly known as mad-cow disease, is a fatal neurodegenerative disease in cattle that causes a spongy degeneration in the brain and spinal cord. BSE has a long incubation period, about 30 months to 8 years, usually affecting adult cattle at a peak age onset of...

 (BSE, or "mad cow disease"). At a cost of about half a million dollars, Creekstone built a testing lab, the first inside a U. S. meat packing plant, and hired the necessary personnel. In 2004, however, the U.S. Department of Agriculture
United States Department of Agriculture
The United States Department of Agriculture is the United States federal executive department responsible for developing and executing U.S. federal government policy on farming, agriculture, and food...

, which controls the sale of testing kits, refused to sell Creekstone enough to test all of its cows.

The USDA's stated position was that allowing any meatpacking company to test every cow would undermine the agency's official position that random testing was scientifically adequate to assure safety. The USDA also claims that testing does not ensure food safety because the disease is difficult to detect in younger animals. An alternative position is that the USDA's objection is the result of pressure from larger meatpacking operations. The president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association
National Cattlemen's Beef Association
National Cattlemen's Beef Association or NCBA, an advocacy group for beef producers in the United States, reports that it works "to increase profit opportunities for cattle and beef producers by enhancing the business climate and building consumer demand."The NCBA operates the Cattle Industry...

 told the Washington Post that "If testing is allowed at Creekstone, we think it would become the international standard and the domestic standard, too." Creekstone Farms says tests cost about $20 per animal, increasing the cost of beef by about 10 cents per pound. The USDA currently tests about 1 percent of cattle slaughtered in the U.S.

In March 2006, Creekstone launched a lawsuit against the USDA for refusing to allow complete testing. On March 29, 2007, Judges James Robertson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that USDA cannot lawfully prevent Creekstone from testing its cattle for BSE. On August 29, 2008, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned the specific basis for the ruling, but sent the case back to the district court.

The company reports that Japan's
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 ban on U.S. beef beginning in 2003 caused the company to lose a third of its sales, prompting the layoff
Layoff , also called redundancy in the UK, is the temporary suspension or permanent termination of employment of an employee or a group of employees for business reasons, such as when certain positions are no longer necessary or when a business slow-down occurs...

of about 150 people.

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