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OTM Rule Still Open for Decisionmaking

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Oldtimer

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January 29, 2009 Phone: 406-672-8969; e-mail: [email protected]



OTM Rule Still Open Under Obama;



Group Gives Vilsack Information to Reinforce Its Opposition



Washington, D.C. – In a Jan. 27, 2009, letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, R-CALF USA has provided to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) more detailed information to support its request that the agency overturn in its entirety the over-30-month rule (OTM Rule), which allows into the U.S. imports of older Canadian cattle, as well as beef products from those older Canadian animals. Canada has an ongoing problem with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease.



USDA did not publish in the Federal Register a final agency action in this matter on or before noon on Jan. 20, 2009, and as such, the OTM Rule is now under the purview of the current Administration as a directive of a White House memo that states President Obama’s appointees and designees have the opportunity to review any new or pending regulations.



“The OTM Rule is only available to the Obama Administration because R-CALF and others relentless pursued litigation that forced the reopening of the rule by court order on July 3, 2008,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.



“…our unwavering commitment to protect our cattle herd health and human health has resulted in our ability to deliver to you the opportunity to fully reverse the final and most egregious act of disease-safeguard abandonment committed by the past Administration – the act of throwing open our nation’s borders to cattle and beef known to be of increased risk for an always fatal disease…” the letter states in part.



The letter also emphasized to Vilsack that:



* Canada continues to detect BSE in cattle born after March 1, 1999, the date USDA claims BSE was not likely circulating in the Canadian herd at sufficient levels to cause infection;



* The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that Canada’s BSE prevalence likely is between 18-fold and 48-fold higher than is the prevalence in the United States;



* Herd mates of Canadian BSE cases have been exported to the United States;



* Herd mates of Canadian BSE cases have been slaughtered in Canada, creating potential further avenues for BSE infection;



* The U.S. continues to experience severe difficulty in reopening lost export markets;



* The native U.S. BSE cases were an atypical strain of BSE not yet known to be spread by the consumption of contaminated feed, as is the classical strain found in the United Kingdom and Canada;



* R-CALF USA’s arguments have resulted in three preliminary injunctions against the agency, the latest of which resulted in the remand of the OTM Rule to USDA for reconsideration.



“Overturning the OTM Rule would protect our cattle herd and beef supply from the introduction of BSE,” Bullard said. “This would help restore confidence in our domestic beef supply and reverse the downward price spiral our cattle industry experienced within months after the OTM Rule went into effect.”
 

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