CUBA RE-OPENS BORDER TO CANADIAN CATTLE
HAVANA, Cuba, March 31, 2005 – Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Andy Mitchell announced, after meeting with Cuban Minister of Agriculture, Alfredo Jordán Morales, that Cuba has approved Canada as a source of live cattle. This follows Cuba's December 14, 2004 decision to re-open its border to a wide range of beef and beef products from Canadian cattle of any age, as well as petfood that does not contain ruminant meat or bone meal.
Canadian exporters will now have access to Cuba for shipments of live cattle, goats and sheep, meat from these animals, as well as bovine semen and embryos. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has worked closely with Cuban authorities for a number of months to re-open this market to live cattle and beef from Canada. In September 2004, Cuban veterinary officials visited Canada to review our practices in relation to animal health and food safety, as well as measures in place to mitigate the risk of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
"This is another important step for the Canadian cattle industry as yet another country has reopened its markets to Canadian cattle based on science," said Minister Mitchell. He noted that similar agreements were recently approved by Tunisia, a new export market for Canadian cattle, and by Lebanon. "Now that Canada has achieved important progress in opening these three new markets, we will continue to work towards realizing similar export agreements with other countries."
As a result of the mission, Canadian industry representatives are negotiating significant sales on a range of commodities, including beans, peas, pork and live cattle. In 2002, total Canadian agricultural exports to Cuba were $81.7 million.
During his visit Minister Mitchell met with several Cuban Ministers and officials to discuss a range of issues, including formalizing the new export cattle regimes.
The Canadian delegation was also greeted by President Castro, who expressed his desire to increase purchases of Canadian agricultural products.
Mr. Mitchell's Cuban visit builds on his recent announcement of the $1 billion Farm Income Payment Program by assisting with transformative industry change through the development of new markets for Canadian beef and other products.
In addition, Minister Mitchell is travelling to Colombia to meet with several key World Trade Organization (WTO) partners. He intends to work towards additional transformative change in the agriculture industry by advocating a rules-based international trading system which would include reduced export subsidies, reduced domestic supports and increased market access.