USDA Proposal Allows Canadian Cows

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Oldtimer

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Release No. 0001.07
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Keith Williams (202) 720-4623

USDA PROPOSES TO ALLOW ADDITIONAL IMPORTS FROM BSE MINIMAL-RISK COUNTRIES

WASHINGTON, Jan. 4, 2007-The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service today announced a proposal to expand the list of allowable imports from countries recognized as presenting a minimal risk of introducing bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) into the United States. Currently, Canada is the only minimal-risk country designated by the United States.


"This proposal would continue to protect against BSE in the United States while taking the next step forward in our efforts to implement science-based trade relations with countries that have appropriate safeguards in place to prevent BSE," said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns. "We previously recognized Canada's comprehensive set of safeguards and we have now completed a risk assessment confirming that additional animals and products can be safely traded. Our approach is consistent with science-based international guidelines."

The proposal expands upon a rule published by APHIS in January 2005 that allowed the importation of certain live ruminants and ruminant products, including cattle under 30 months of age for delivery to a slaughterhouse or feedlot, from countries recognized as minimal-risk. In the rule announced today, APHIS is proposing to allow the importation of:

Live cattle and other bovines for any use born on or after, March 1, 1999, the date determined by APHIS to be the date of effective enforcement of the ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban in Canada;
Meat products from cattle born on or after March 1, 1999;
Blood and blood products derived from bovines, collected under certain conditions; and
Casings and part of the small intestine derived from bovines.
As part of the proposal, APHIS conducted a thorough risk assessment following guidelines put forth by the World Organization for Animal Health, or OIE, and found that the risk associated with these commodities is minimal. This assessment evaluated the entire risk pathway, including mitigations in place both in Canada and the United States. The assessment included evaluating the likelihood of introduction of BSE via imports, the likelihood of animal exposure if this were to occur and the subsequent consequences. All of these were combined to give the overall minimal risk estimation.

It is important to note that BSE transmission is prevented in bovines by a series of safeguards, including; slaughter controls and dead animal disposal, rendering inactivation, feed manufacturing and use controls, and biologic limitations to susceptibility. These layers of protection work together to prevent spread of the disease.

In the United States, human health is protected by a system of interlocking safeguards that ensure the safety of U.S. beef. The most important of these safeguards is the ban on specified risk materials from the food supply and the Food and Drug Administration's ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban. Canada has similar safeguards in place.

The risk assessment concluded that for all the commodities considered under the current proposal, the risk of BSE infectivity is minimal and the disease will not become established in the United States. The proposed rule will be published in the Jan. 9, 2007 Federal Register and is available on our Web site at http://www.aphis.usda.gov .

APHIS invites comments on this proposed rule. Consideration will be given to comments received on or before March 12, 2007. Send an original and three copies of postal mail or commercial delivery comments to Docket No. APHIS-2006-0041, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, Md. 20737-1238. If you wish to submit a comment using the Internet, go to the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov , select "Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service" from the agency drop-down menu; then click on "Submit." In the Docket ID column, select APHIS-2006-0041 to submit or view public comments and to view the proposal and the supporting and related materials available electronically.

Comments are posted on the Regulations.gov Web site and may also be viewed at USDA, Room 1141, South Building, 14th St. and Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C., between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. To facilitate entry into the comment reading room, please call (202) 690-2817.


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Oldtimer

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I wonder how NCBA will reconcile this conflict now that the higher risk Canadian beef and cows are being proposed to come south :???:

Will they oppose the opening to older cattle/beef? Or will they support tougher US feedban restrictions?... Or will they do like normal- flipflop and stick their head between the USDA/AMI's legs?


The U.S. feed ban is less strict than Canada's, drawing criticism from companies such as McDonald's and food and agribusiness Cargill Inc.



Officials have proposed tightening the ban, but not as much as Canada has. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association says further restrictions are unnecessary because this country has lower risks
.



U.S. Seeks More Canadian Beef Imports



By LIBBY QUAID, The Associated Press

Examiner

Jan 4, 2007



WASHINGTON - The Bush administration said Thursday it will seek to increase cattle and beef imports from Canada despite questions about Canadian safeguards against mad cow disease.



Canada discovered five new cases of the disease last year. One in particular was disturbing because the cow was born years after Canada adopted safeguards to keep the disease from spreading.



The United States banned Canadian cattle and beef after Canada found its first case of mad cow disease in May 2003. Later that year, an imported Canadian cow in Washington state became the first U.S. case of mad cow disease.



Canadian imports of beef resumed swiftly, but a court battle with a Western ranchers' group kept the border from reopening to live cattle until July 2005.



Still, beef and cattle imports have been restricted to animals younger than 30 months because older animals carry a higher risk of having mad cow disease, which is known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE.



The Agriculture Department is proposing to allow imports of beef and cattle from Canadian cattle 30 months and older. Live animals that are imported for breeding and slaughter in the U.S. must be born on or after March 1, 1999.



The plan will go through 60 days of public comment until March 12. Department officials said they will take into account all comments before proceeding, possibly in the summer.



"This proposal would continue to protect against BSE in the United States while taking the next step forward in our efforts to implement science-based trade relations with countries that have appropriate safeguards in place to prevent BSE," Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said.



He said U.S. officials conducted a risk assessment and determined that the older cattle would be safe for consumers.



"Our approach is consistent with science-based international guidelines," Johanns said.



The department waited to relax the trade rules while investigators tried to solve the mystery of the cow that was infected years after Canada put its safeguards in place.



The safeguards bar the use of cattle remains in cattle feed. This is the primary firewall against the disease because the only known way for cattle to get infected is by eating feed containing diseased cattle tissue.



The practice was largely outlawed in Canada - and the United States - in 1997. But the infected cow was born in 2002.



Canadian officials blamed the infection on cross-contamination, either when the feed was mixed or when it was transported because cattle remains have been allowed in food for other livestock and pets. Canada announced last year it will ban cattle tissues known to carry the disease from feed for all livestock and pets.



The U.S. feed ban is less strict than Canada's, drawing criticism from companies such as McDonald's and food and agribusiness Cargill Inc.



Officials have proposed tightening the ban, but not as much as Canada has. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association says further restrictions are unnecessary because this country has lower risks.


The ranchers' group that sued, R-CALF USA, says older cattle from Canada present too great a risk. The magnitude of Canada's mad cow epidemic is still unfolding, said Bill Bullard, the group's chief executive.



"USDA's proposal to allow over 30-month cattle and beef is premature, and we are asking Congress to intervene to stop it," Bullard said.



The U.S. imports about 12 percent of its beef. In 2005, Canada accounted for nearly one-quarter of those imports, shipping $1.2 billion worth of beef and veal, an estimated 812 million pounds, to U.S. markets. Imports dropped off in 2006; the most recent data shows about $776 million in Canadian shipments through October.



Mad cow disease, a brain-wasting disorder, infected more than 180,000 cows and was blamed for more than 150 human deaths during a European outbreak that peaked in 1993.



In humans, eating meat contaminated with BSE is linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a rare and deadly nerve disease. The U.S. has found three cases of BSE, two of them in native-born animals in Texas and Alabama. Canada has found eight cases in all.



examiner.com
 

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