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BSE still costing Canada

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Tommy

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BSE still costing Canada



Mad-cow disease still costs farmers millions

U.S. border closed to normal trade



By JOHN COTTER

The Globe and Mail

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Canadian Press



EDMONTON -- Canadian cattle producers must be prepared to wait even longer for the U.S. border to fully reopen to normal trade, industry experts say.



There was hope the U.S. Department of Agriculture would publish a new rule this fall that would pave the way for renewed shipments of older cattle and breeding stock starting next year.



Now the Canadian Cattlemen's Association and other groups are warning producers not to expect the border to fully reopen until some time in 2007 -- four years after mad-cow disease was discovered in an Alberta cow.



Such a delay would hit the wallets of cattle producers across the country, especially people in the dairy and beef-breeding business.



"A lot of us won't be here by then," said Jon Walker Sr. from his dairy cattle breeding operation near Aylmer, Ont.



"We always fed between 1,500 and 2,000 head. I think we have 300 now, and I wish I didn't have them."



The Canadian Livestock Genetics Association estimates the continued shutdown is costing the breeding industries about $300-million a year in lost sales.



Beef producers with cattle over 30 months of age (OTM) will also feel the pinch.



There were more than 900,000 surplus OTM cattle across the country as of last July, according to Statistics Canada. While Canadian meat plants will process some of those, aging animals will swell the national herd.



Industry experts say the USDA wants to be extra careful in developing the new trade rule to ensure it can withstand lawsuits from protectionist groups such as R-CALF USA.



This year, R-CALF, which represents about 18,000 U.S. ranchers, went to court and temporarily derailed the USDA rule that eventually led to the border reopening in July to Canadian cattle under 30 months of age.



While that trade continues, the case is still before the courts.



"USDA is very aware of the fact that R-CALF will probably direct litigation at this new rule and they are trying to make it as perfect as they can," said Darcy Davis, chairman of Alberta Beef Producers. "I think it is making them overly cautious."



Canada's push for the second rule is based on the same premise that supported the current rule allowing the trade in young cattle to resume: risk factors for bovine spongiform encephalopathy in Canada are no different than in the United States.



John Masswohl, director of international relations for the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, said he expects the USDA to conduct careful risk assessments before publishing its new rule, probably some time next summer.



The USDA will then have to set a comment period before making a decision on fully restoring the beef trade with Canada.



That response period could fall in the middle of U.S. congressional election campaigns next year. "I really wouldn't be expecting to see a final comprehensive rule until early 2007," Mr. Masswohl said.



While producers are being warned to brace for the delay, Mr. Masswohl said the association is working hard to lobby the U.S. food industry to speed up the process.



With some U.S. beef processing plants laying off staff or shutting down due to a shortage of supply, re-establishing the full cattle trade with Canada would make dollars and sense.



"We are talking with state cattle groups, state farm bureaus, restaurant associations, food manufacturers -- all down in the U.S.," he said. "They will act when they realize it is in their best interest."



theglobeandmail.com
 

PORKER

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Now the Canadian Cattlemen's Association and other groups are warning producers not to expect the border to fully reopen until some time in 2007 -- four years after mad-cow disease was discovered in an Alberta cow.
Full live BSE blood or urine testing of each animal would start the process overnight.
 

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