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Canada optimistic about Japan's mad cow move

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Well-known member
Feb 10, 2005
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Canada optimistic about Japan's mad cow move
CTV.ca News Staff

Japan is relaxing its domestic standards when it comes to testing for mad cow disease, and that could be good news for Canadian cattle producers.

"Right from the beginning, Japan has been very clear - do what we do," said Ted Haney, president of the Canadian Beef Export Federation, on Monday.

Japan's Food Safety commission determined that exempting cattle aged 20 months or younger from tests for the brain-wasting illness wouldn't affect the safety of that country's food supply.

Scientists don't believe the prions associated with mad cow disease accumulate in cattle below that age threshold.

That ruling paves the way for the Japanese government to consider resumption of beef imports from the U.S. and Canada.

Haney estimated that Japan is a beef market worth an estimated $160 to $240 million per year for Canadian cattle producers.

Dennis Laycraft of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association also pronounced the move as good news.

Japan stopped importing beef from Canada when a single case of mad cow disease was discovered on an Alberta farm in May 2003.

Two more cases were discovered earlier this year.

Fifteen months ago, the U.S. was cut off from the Japanese market after an infected cow was detected. That animal had Canadian origins.

The two countries reached an agreement in October 2004 to resume imports of American cattle younger than 21 months.

Japan instituted a policy of testing all animals for bovine spongiform encephalopathy after it discovered its first case of the disease in October 2001.

Beef sales there plunged over fears of contracting variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, the human form of mad cow. It has since diagnosed 16 cases of the disease.

Even though the commission has ruled to soften testing requirements, actually commencing imports again could take months.

The U.S. situation

Japan is small potatoes for Canadian beef producers compared to the U.S. beef market.

While the border was to open to Canadian cattle on March 7, a Montana judge nixed that idea in response to a motion launched by R-CALF, a U.S. cattle industry lobby group.

An appeal of that decision is to be heard on July 27.

When that happens, the U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn't want the National Meat Association taking part.

The department argued the association would offer no new evidence and would unnecessarily complicate things.

With files from The Associated Press

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