USDA- May Need to Tighten US/Canadian Border Imports

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Conner warns still obstacles with Japanese beef trade



by Bob Meyer and Amanda Davenport, student intern

Brownfield

July 12, 2006



Department of Agriculture Assistant Secretary Chuck Conner talked to Brownfield about Japan reopening its borders to U.S. beef as well as recent Canadian BSE occurrences during his visit to the Wisconsin Farm Technology Days.



In regard to U.S. beef in Japan, Conner says with previous false starts, you can’t take anything for granted. Ultimately the proof, he says, will be when product is actually moving into Japan.



Even after Japan opens its borders to U.S. beef, there is still a lot of work to do. One obstacle will be getting the beef to actually sell. The Japanese government has left the credibility and safety of U.S. beef questionable and unstable among its citizens, according to Conner, and it will be important to reestablish the consumer market.



Conner believes the U.S. needs to collaborate with the Meat Export Federation. He added he expects it will be a slow process to build back consumer confidence and return the demand to where it was prior to 2003.



As far as the possible occurrences of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Canada, Conner says it’s too soon to know how it will affect the United State or even if it will.



The first recent occurrence dealt with a much older cow, which will not affect the U.S. as it was born before 1997 when the current feed laws were installed. Although the most recent possible case of BSE deals with a younger animal, it is still unconfirmed. If tests come back positive, it would have greater implications on the United States. According to Conner, if confirmed, it could mean a need to tighten the U.S./ Canadian border.





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Today 7/13/2006 4:12:00 PM


USDA Secretary Expresses Concern Over Latest Canada BSE Case



WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)--U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns expressed concern Thursday over Canada's confirmation of a new case of mad-cow disease because the infected animal was born well after Canada put a preventive feed ban in place.



"While the United States and Canada have a strong system in place to protect animal and human health, the diagnosis of BSE in an animal born roughly four and a half years after the implementation of the 1997 ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban does raise questions that must be answered," Johanns said.



Johanns said he will be dispatching USDA officials to Canada to monitor the country's investigation into its latest BSE case, discovered in a 50-month-old dairy cow from Alberta.



"We need a thorough understanding of all the circumstances involved in this case to assure our consumers that Canada's regulatory system is effectively providing the utmost protections to consumers and livestock," he said.



Johanns said he is particularly concerned about "how this animal may have been exposed to BSE-infected material."



The Canadian feed ban, similar to the one in the U.S., prohibits the use of bovine material in cattle feed because infected feed is believed to be the primary means of spreading the disease among animals. Both the U.S. and Canada implemented their respective feed bans in 1997.



The USDA still bans the importation of Canadian cattle that are older than 30 months, but the department is in the midst of creating a new federal rule that would lift the prohibition.



The USDA banned all Canadian beef and cattle in May 2003 after Canada announced its first native-born case of BSE. Shortly afterward, USDA began allowing in Canadian beef back into the U.S., but didn't ease its ban on some cattle until 2005.



The USDA lifted its ban on Canadian cattle under 30 months of age in July 2005.
 

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