R-Calf Rallies Against Canadian Cattle

WASHINGTON, D.C. – R-CALF USA recently sent a formal letter to each Member of Congress to ask that they co-sponsor and support Resolutions of Disapproval against the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) plan to allow Canadian cattle over-30-months (OTM) of age, provided the animals were born after March 1, 1999, into the U.S. beginning Nov. 19. Also to be allowed into the U.S. are beef and blood products from Canadian cattle of any age.
calendar icon 12 October 2007
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“It is important to note that five of the seven new cases of BSE detected in Canada since the beginning of last year were found in animals born well after this 1999 date.”

R-CALF USA President/Region VI Director Max Thornsberry

The agency’s plan commonly is referred to as the OTM Rule. R-CALF USA supports the Resolutions of Disapproval introduced by both chambers of Congress on Oct. 3 because Canada continues to have ongoing problems with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease. R-CALF USA is asking Congress to enforce its mandate to USDA to prevent the introduction of BSE into the United States.

“We are committed to ensuring the highest quality and safety beef for U.S. consumers, and we need your help,” wrote R-CALF USA President/Region VI Director Max Thornsberry, a Missouri veterinarian who also chairs the group’s animal health committee. “R-CALF USA respectfully asks you to help protect the U.S. cattle herd and U.S. consumers by both co-sponsoring and voting ‘Yes’ on either S.J. Res. 20 or H.J. Res. 55, whichever is appropriate…

“It is important to note that five of the seven new cases of BSE detected in Canada since the beginning of last year were found in animals born well after this 1999 date,” the letter continued.

Of particular concern to R-CALF USA is the agency’s own risk model, which forecasts that from 19 to 105 cases of BSE could be introduced into the United States.

“Other countries with BSE, principally European nations and Japan, practice far stricter mitigation measures than Canada,” Thornsberry wrote. “Specifically, they test older cattle before slaughter, they ban more tissues and blood from all animal feed, and they remove high-risk tissues from cattle at a much younger age to protect human health.

“The international standard-setting body (OIE) criticized the U.S. feed ban for being inadequate to stop the spread of BSE (yet) USDA is defying the OIE, claiming the U.S. does not need to improve its feed ban prior to allowing higher-risk Canadian cattle, beef, and blood into the United States,” the letter warned. “Contrary to USDA’s claim that Canada’s BSE-risk profile is similar to the U.S., the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that Canadian cattle are 26 times more likely to test positive for BSE than cattle born and raised in the United States.”

“R-CALF USA members voted overwhelmingly to stop USDA from allowing the importation of over- 30-month cattle and beef from any BSE-affected country and Congress’ Resolution of Disapproval would accomplish this objective,” Thornsberry said.

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