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11-point directive by USDA , "Canadian Rule"

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Well-known member
Feb 11, 2005
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TO: NCBA Officers, Executive Committee, State Affiliates, and Member Organizations
FROM: Bryan Dierlam,

NCBA Executive Director, Government Affairs

DATE: March 2, 2005
RE: Affiliate Update:

Status of NCBA actions regarding "Canadian Rule" directive

As you know, at NCBA's recent annual meeting, our membership passed an 11-point directive regarding the resumption of trade with Canada. Listed below is a status report of NCBA actions and progress regarding the criteria.

Prohibit the importation of cattle and beef products from cattle more than 30 months of age.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced Feb. 9 a delay in the importation of beef products from cattle more than 30 months of age. The rule scheduled for implementation will include ONLY beef products from cattle under30 months of age.

Ron DeHaven, administrator for USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said the agency has begun a scientific assessment on whether importing Canadian cattle over 30 months of age - and beef products made from these animals - would increase the risk of spreading BSE in the U.S. The risk assessment could take several months to complete. Secretary Mike Johanns has said it may take six to 12 months for the U.S. to open its border to older Canadian cattle.

Assurance that all Canadian firewalls to prevent BSE, specifically adherence to their feed ban, are function properly.

NCBA's Canadian Trade Delegation reported, based on their January visit to Canada and tour of Canada's beef production system, "the Canadian feed industry appears to be in compliance with its feed ban, based on visual inspections and audit reports." Still, NCBA wanted further evidence of compliance, and the trade delegation specifically requested an audit of Canada's compliance with its feed ban.

On Feb. 25, USDA released a report documenting Canada's compliance with their feed ban.
The report, written by USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says "based on their review of inspection records and on-site observations, the inspection team found that Canada has a robust inspection program, that overall compliance with the feed ban is good, and that the feed ban is reducing the risk of transmission of BSE in the Canadian cattle population."

No feeder cattle imported until agreement is reached on harmonization of animal health standards, especially bluetongue and anaplasmosis.

Canada has issued preliminary rules to bring about harmonization of animal health standards on bluetongue and anaplasmosis as they relate to feeder cattle. NCBA President Jim McAdams met with the Canadian Ag Minister in Washington D.C. on Feb. 10. During that meeting Canadian officials assured NCBA that the government of Canada would work cooperatively with the U.S. to resolve the issues both for feeder cattle and for breeding stock. NCBA remains in regular contact with senior officials of the Canadian Ag ministry.

Movement of Canadian cattle into the U.S. must be managed to minimize market disruptions.

APHIS released on Feb. 22 documents outlining import procedures for product from Canada. As many as eight new files have been posted to the BSE "Hot Issues" section of their website to assist with the implementation of the "Minimal-Risk Region" rule. Some of the files include specific instructions on the overall importation requirements for Minimal Risk Regions and the importation of commodities from Canada, Importation of Bovines from Canada for feeding, Veterinarian instructions on the Importation of Live Animals, Protocol for the importation of Cattle for Immediate Slaughter and Protocol related to other species for import from Canada.

The reports, http://www.aphis.usda.gov/lpa/issues/bse/bse.html, will require additional clarification in a number of key areas.

Feeder cattle coming into the U.S. are likely to face fairly complex and new regulations ranging from age verification to the requirements for sealing trucks. Senior officials at USDA have been quoted on several occasions saying that completing the permit process will likely slow feeder cattle imports to the U.S., potentially putting off most Canadian feeder cattle exports to the U.S. for three to four months.

Fed Cattle imported for immediate slaughter must be certified to be less than 30 months of age at the time of importation.

The instructions released on Feb. 22, 2005 require age verification. Cattle moving direct to slaughter will be off-loaded (1 truck in 12) to verify their age, ID, etc. The reports indicated above provide comprehensive details of the age verification requirements.

USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) also issued Feb. 28 a notice to inspectors regarding "the receipt, slaughter, and inspection of certain ruminants imported from Canada."

It is posted on their website at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/.

Ban the use of fetal bovine serum from heifers imported for immediate slaughter.

Fetuses found in heifers at slaughter will be treated as an illegal import and must be destroyed and disposed of by incineration, landfill, or digester.

USDA grades and stamps are not allowed on any imported beef product.

U.S. grade stamps are not authorized for use on boxed beef meeting the strictest interpretation of this rule. Virtually no product is shipped as carcasses. The most recent legislative attempt to modify the Meat Act to go beyond "product" was S. 544 (Burns, Bond, Craig & Thomas) in the 107th Congress. Concerns have been raised.

Preventing imported beef and lamb from receiving a USDA grade would violate national treatment rules under Article 3 of the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs, industry and government sources said. Article 3.1 states that imported products of a WTO member "shall be accorded treatment no less favorable than that accorded to like products of national origin in respect of all laws, regulations and requirements affecting their internal sale, offering for sale, purchase, transportation, distribution or use."

Feeder cattle must be branded with a "CAN", individually identified with an ear tag, certified to be less than 30 months of age at time of slaughter, shipped in sealed trucks from the border directly to an approved feedlot and moved directly in sealed trucks to slaughter.
As is prescribed in the final rule, the instruction documents released Feb. 22, require animals to be branded with a "CAN" and prohibit the removal of official Canadian ear tags (required by Canadian law). The rule also requires the shipment of feeder cattle in sealed trucks and a requirement for the seal to be removed by officials at the final destination. Movement to slaughter is also in "sealed" conveyance. Canadian cattle may not be shipped with non Canadian cattle from feedyard to slaughter. Age must be verified prior to shipment and Canadian cattle older than 30 months will be deemed an illegal import and must be destroyed. Age determination can be made using either dentition or through valid documentation.

Feeder heifers imported into the U.S. from Canada must be spayed.

USDA does not directly require spaying of heifers for import as feeders. USDA does require that all animals coming to the U.S. will need to be certified that they are not pregnant. That certification can be accomplished by spaying or by certification of other means by a veterinarian.

USDA must work with our primary trading partners to ensure that expanded export access for U.S. beef is not in any way jeopardized by expanded importation of cattle and beef from Canada.

The U.S. has received numerous assurances that our evaluation of minimal risk status for Canada in no way will negatively affect our ability to regain access to export markets. No countries have expressed concern with current USDA proposals, nor has any country indicated that the U.S. decision to expand trade with Canada, as defined by the rule, would negatively affect U.S. export opportunities. As an example: Mexico will not take any beef product from the U.S. that the U.S. is not taking from Canada. Conversely, they'll import any product from the U.S. or Canada that the U.S. and Canada decide to trade.

The Administration must reach an agreement to re-establish beef and beef byproduct trade with Japan, South Korea and Mexico, and apply economic sanctions if necessary.

At NCBA's suggestion, 20 key U.S. Senators sent a letter on Feb. 18 to Ryozo Kato, Ambassador of Japan to urge resolution to the Japanese embargo on U.S. beef. The letter says: "If the Japanese government fails to lift the ban expeditiously, we are afraid that the U.S. Congress may pursue equitable, retaliatory, economic actions against Japan. Our preference is to avoid this course of action, but our livestock producers, our industry workforce and our communities cannot wait a moment longer."
The letter was assigned by U.S. Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Ken Salazar (D-CO), Jim Talent (R-MO), Larry Craig (R-ID), Kit Bond (R-MO), John Cornyn (R-TX), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Mike DeWine (R-OH), Gordon Smith (R-OR), George Voinovich (R-OH), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), John Thune (R-SD), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Max Baucus (D-MT), James Inhofe (R-OK), and Pete Domenici (R-NM). A similar letter was also sent by thirty house members led by Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO). Also, Congressman Bill Thomas, Chairman of House Ways and Means Committee, sent a letter to the Ambassador of Japan as well.

NCBA has also sent to affiliates and member organizations sample letters to Congress and Administration officials and contact information for key administration officials for cattlemen to use when sending their own letters. A number of state affiliates have sent letters to the members of congress and the administration. We continue to urge the Administration to keep a full court press across all aspects of government.

NCBA expects further clarifications and explanations regarding the requirements associated with the rule. NCBA will report any new information to affiliates as this issue progresses.

Bryan Dierlam
1301 Pennsylvania Ave NW Suite 300
Washington DC 20004-1701

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