• If you are having problems logging in please use the Contact Us in the lower right hand corner of the forum page for assistance.

Does RCALF believe in trade, Food safety #1, right?

Help Support Ranchers.net:


Well-known member
Feb 12, 2005
Reaction score
These are all quotes from RCALf! Do they believe that the US should trade their beef with other countries, I don't think so, they believe in the safety of human health, right? Or have things changed now!

In response to the previous outbreaks of BSE in the U.K., R-CALF USA recommended in June 2001 that countries reporting BSE should be required to have at least a nine-year disease-free status following their being certified as 'disease-free' before being allowed to import any animals, cut products, and byproducts into the United States. The World Organization for Animal Health sets international standards for determining the BSE risk status of countries and uses 7 years as the period in which a country must have no cases of BSE in native cattle in order to achieve a BSE Free status, representing the lowest level of risk. "It appears at this point that Canada will be considered a country with moderate BSE risk until Canada's incident rate is less than one case per million head of cattle for four years," suggested McDonnell

1. The U.S. should enter into a formal agreement with Canada obligating it to: (a) notify the U.S. upon even a preliminary finding of BSE, (b) authorize USDA to send an investigative team at the time of a preliminary finding of BSE; and (c) immediately cease all exports and begin the quarantining process upon a preliminary finding of BSE.
2. The United States should require permanent marks of origin on all livestock imported into the U.S. from Canada and all other trading partners thereby giving the U.S. the ability to immediately identify foreign cattle originating from a specific foreign country that may have a future case of BSE.
3. The United States should immediately implement the infrastructural components of its mandatory country of origin labeling law, thereby enabling the tracking of all imported beef and all beef derived from imported livestock from the point of slaughter to the retailer.
4. The United States should not resume imports of Canadian cattle or beef until the items in (1) through (3) above are implemented and (a) the exact source of the BSE infection is identified, the source of the BSE contamination is completely eradicated, and every animal exposed to the source has been identified and destroyed; and (b) Canada is able to comply, in all respects, with the OIE International Animal Heath Code-2002 and with existing United States policy and it as a country or its relevant zones are recognized by both the OIE and the United States as BSE Free under existing laws and rules.

R-CALF USA said its proposed framework is a "measured" response to the facts, concerns, and questions arising from Canada's single case of BSE. In support of its recommendations, R-CALF USA pointed out: (1) The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) establishes a seven-year waiting period before a BSE Free status can be reinstated if BSE is confirmed in a native cow. (2) Past experience with BSE shows that the finding of only a single case of BSE within a year's time or within a single herd provides little assurance that the disease is contained. (3) The frequency of BSE outbreaks outside the United Kingdom has increased significantly and BSE has spread to 12 new countries, including Canada, since 2000. (4) The USDA has maintained public confidence in its ability to protect its citizens from BSE by assuring the public that it has prohibited the importation of ruminant animals from countries where BSE is known to exist in native cattle since 1989. (5) The United States does not now have the ability to identify all foreign livestock within the United States or to recall or otherwise segregate foreign meat products should the need arise to do so. (6) The current BSE detection and notification procedures of our trading partners need to be tightened.
According to the OIE, BSE has been identified in 23 countries. The United States has banned imports of beef and cattle from all BSE-infected countries. Austria, Canada, Finland, Greece, and Israel have each had one case of BSE. Austria, Finland, and Greece each identified BSE in 2001, Israel in 2002, and Canada discovered BSE in 2003. None of the countries with just one case of BSE have been allowed to export beef or live cattle to the U.S. since discovery of the disease.
R-CALF USA actively monitors international trade and the food safety quality of the cattle and beef imported into the U.S. It said the importation of even the smallest quantity of beef or cattle into the United States from any country that was known to have a confirmed case of BSE could prove detrimental to the U.S. beef and cattle industry as well as other livestock industries.
This action marks the first time the United States has lifted its ban on importing beef from a country that had lost its BSE-free status. There are 24 countries subject to this ban and this precedent will likely be used to seek a lifting of the ban for them as well. R-CALF USA agrees with USDA's call for an international dialogue to develop consistent guidelines for resuming trade with BSE affected countries. However, current international guidelines set by the International Office of Epizootics (OIE) establish a 7-year waiting period before an affected country can reestablish its BSE-free status. In this instance, USDA is resuming trade within about three months of Canada's BSE case. We believe the international dialogue should be held before resuming international trade.

USDA justifies its departure from current policy based on its finding that muscle cuts do not appear to transmit infection and concludes the risk associated with importing muscle cuts of beef from animals less than 30 months of age is extremely low. The Harvard study refers to this as the 'over 30 month scheme,' which was first implemented in the U.K. in 1996 based on the rational that 'cattle over the age of 30 months could carry potentially substantial levels of infectivity in different tissues without having yet developed clinical signs of the disease.' R-CALF USA remains concerned that the 2001 Harvard BSE study also found that current science has not discovered a commercially available method of detecting the BSE agent in food, nor has it discovered a test to identify BSE except when the disease is very near the end of its incubation period, which ranges from 2-8 years. It is simply too risky to begin relaxing our current, science-based standards without first obtaining new and more definitive scientific evidence about this disease

Bullard said that from 1989 to mid-2003, the United States maintained a zero-risk policy using the OIE's risk categories as its scientific basis. "Until this August, our policy was to allow imports only from countries which met the BSE free categories of the OIE." In August of 2003, the USDA relaxed its zero-risk policy and began accepting imports of certain beef products from Canada even though Canada no longer meets the OIE's BSE-free categories. "This visit to the OIE reinforced our position that the United States has relaxed its position regarding the level of risk it is willing to accept while the basic science establishing the actual risk has remained unchanged," Bullard said.
"Thus," said Bullard, "The decision to relax our import restrictions with Canada was politically motivated and not based on any new internationally accepted science." Bullard told the participating APHIS officials that the BSE issue clearly defines the differences between the U.S. live cattle industry and the U.S. beef industry. He said that U.S. cattle producers realize no additional benefit by accepting anything less than a zero-risk policy towards the Canadian BSE case. "If we relax our current zero-risk policy, U.S. live cattle prices will be reduced due to increased supplies of both beef and live cattle from Canada. If, by accepting this increased risk, the BSE agent is introduced in the U.S., the U.S. cattle industry will suffer even more. There are no up-sides for U.S. cattle producers for taking any additional risk," he said.
Dr. Max Thornsbury, DVM, a Missouri cattle producer and chairman of R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America's (R-CALF USA) BSE Committee stated, "U.S. cattle producers are disappointed that the USDA would even consider Canada in light of the fact they had 2 reported cases of BSE in Canadian native cattle in a nine month period in 2003. One could hardly call this minimal risk." It is also unclear why the USDA would consider opening U.S. imports to countries known to have BSE, while U.S. exports of beef are nearly shut down even though the U.S. has never had a case of BSE in a native cow. This makes the United States the potential dumping ground for foreign beef and cattle that other countries will not accept.
No major beef importing country other than Mexico will take Canadian cattle and beef. Canada has not banned the use of blood meal and animal fat in its cattle feed, which scientists suspect can transmit BSE to cattle. Currently, Canada tests only a small fraction of the number of cattle necessary to ensure that Canadian beef is BSE-free. USDA's proposal, if implemented, could allow meat from a BSE-infected Canadian cow into the food supply and increase the risk of humans contracting variant-Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (the human form of BSE).

"Rather than damaging the industry, USDA should identify all imported cattle in the U.S. so in the event of a confirmed BSE-positive case, the agency can immediately determine – and announce – whether the animal was imported or domestic," McDonnell continued. "That information is critically important, because according to international standards for world animal health, the disease status of the U.S. is determined by whether BSE is found in the native herd. It is irresponsible for USDA not to identify the imported cattle here, given the financial damage to our industry we've seen in only one short week."

Latest posts