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Canada Retreats From Broad U.S. Beef Import Plan

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Feb 10, 2005
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Canada Retreats From Broad U.S. Beef Import Plan
Wed March 30, 2005 5:16 PM GMT-05:00

By Roberta Rampton

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Canada has backtracked from a plan to allow the import of a broad range of U.S. cattle and beef in the wake of the first U.S. case of mad cow disease, a veterinary official said on Wednesday.

Canada had planned to allow import of U.S. cattle born in 1998 or later, and meat from cattle of any age from which the brains, spines and other mad-cow disease risk materials had been removed.

"It was determined that it would be premature to completely remove the prohibitions as proposed ... as this time," said Billy Hewett, director of policy with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's international affairs division.

Instead, Canada has decided to allow imports of U.S. feeder cattle under 30 months of age, according to a regulation made effective late on Tuesday.

Young U.S. cattle bound for Canadian slaughterhouses were never banned, and those imports can continue, Hewett said.

Cattle under 30 months of age are considered to be at low risk of developing bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease.

A ban on breeding stock and beef from older U.S. animals will continue, Hewett said.

Canada put the bans in place after the United States found its first case of mad cow disease in Washington state in December 2003.

In January, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency published proposals to lift much of its ban.

But regulators changed their minds after receiving industry and public comments and after discussions with U.S. and Mexican counterparts on harmonizing import rules, Hewett said.

"The U.S. has its legal challenges it has to deal with, Mexico has some regulatory initiatives that they have to deal with," Hewett said.

Canadian cattle and beef have been shut out of most export markets since the country reported its first native case of mad cow disease in May 2003.

The United States and Mexico have since allowed imports of boneless beef from young Canadian cattle.

U.S. officials had planned to open trade to young Canadian cattle starting March 7, but a court challenge from an activist U.S. rancher group has stalled the new rules.

Mexico plans to allow imports of young live Canadian cattle in the next few months, Hewett said.

Canada also announced it will allow imports of U.S. sheep and goats under 12 months of age for feedlots or slaughterhouses, as well as a broader range of meat from the animals.

Bulls destined for animal semen collection centers will also be allowed into Canada.

Canada will ban imports of fertilizer and animal foods containing material from any ruminant animals, Hewett said.

The rules for imports of U.S. beef will continue to be a temporary measure until Canada finalizes a new policy to apply to all countries, Hewett said.

"It's not gone totally unnoticed that our blanket import policy is now inconsistent with what we're doing for the U.S.," he said.

Canada has banned beef from other countries that have reported mad cow disease.

But officials plan to seek public comment on a draft import policy in coming weeks that would bring Canada's rules more in line with guidelines from the world animal health body, the Office International des Epizooties, Hewett said.
rancher said:
Too funny!!

AMEN-- This whole rulemaking situation is a joke.... "SOUND SCIENCE" has turned into the "whim of the day" because most of it can't be backed up-- CFIA and USDA should get the yearly award for Head Up Rear Title....

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