'Good News' For The Canadian Beef Industry

CANATA - Canada's agriculture minister says last week's decision by Washington to open the border to Canadian beef imports is good news for an industry plagued by the costly stigma of mad-cow disease.
calendar icon 20 September 2007
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The decision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture declaring the risk of bovine spongiform encephalopathy among Canadian cattle "negligible" brings the countries a step closer to normal trade for the first time in more than four years, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said Wednesday.

Canadian producers have been losing about C$426 million a year under restricted trade since Canada's first case of BSE was discovered in May 2003.

U.S. officials announced last Friday that trade would resume Nov. 19 in cows born after March 1, 1999, as well as meat from them. The officials said these animals pose no health risk.

The U.S. risk assessment assumes that Canada, which has identified 10 cases of mad cow in all, will have more in the future.

Officials say they expect only about 75,000 Canadian cows will actually cross the border in the first year, down from an earlier estimate of 650,000, partly because of the challenges of proving their age.

The United States will also require a tattoo or brand indicating they're from Canada.

Ritz said the decision was based on "sound science," although Canada would have preferred no age requirement for cattle going to immediate slaughter.

"We look forward to USDA actions to further enhance trade in meat and meat products from older animals," Ritz said in a statement.

Source: The Canadian Press
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