NFU to Congress: Reject Rule on Canadian Border

WASHINGTON – National Farmers Union President Tom Buis, in a letter to members of Congress today, urged support for legislation to disapprove the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) final rule to expand cattle and beef trade from minimal risk regions.
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Legislation to reject the rule has been introduced in the Senate by Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and in the House by Reps. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., and Denny Rehberg, R-Mont.

The rule would expand beef and cattle trade with Canada, by allowing the importation of additional live animals and beef products from any aged animal. This rule comes despite the fact that Canada has nine confirmed cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and four of the nine cases were in an animal born after March 1, 1999. The final rule would allow live animals born after this date into the United States.

“At a minimum, consumers should know the origin of the meat they purchase before expanding trade with Canada. It simply does not make sense to risk American consumers’ confidence in our meat supply by opening the Canadian border at a time when Canada has yet to demonstrate its BSE problem is under control,” Buis said.

In the letter, Buis urged that the following measures be addressed prior to reopening the Canadian border:

  • Canada can prove and verify their cattle herd and beef products are BSE-free;
  • Canada can prove and verify 100 percent compliance with the ruminant feed ban;
  • U.S. international beef export markets are firmly reestablished;
  • Mandatory country-of-origin labeling is fully implemented;
  • Rapid-test technology is provided to all domestic slaughtering facilities to provide stability to the cattle market, and another layer of confidence for the American consuming public; and
  • A guaranteed economic safety net for American producers if the importation of cattle and beef products from BSE-positive countries negatively impacts domestic profitability.

The NFU board of directors, in a Sept. 21 letter to Congress said, “National Farmers Union believes American producers and consumers deserve better.” The rule was published in the Federal Register Sept. 18, giving Congress 60 days to review.

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