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don

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Release No. 0126.05
Contact:
USDA Press Office (202) 423-4623

The following is an excerpt from the above document.


TRANSCRIPT OF REMARKS BY AGRICULTURE SECRETARY MIKE JOHANNS AT THE 13TH ANNUAL FOOD AND AGRICULTURE POLICY CONFERENCE - WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 13, 2005

"Now, speaking of BSE, let me go to that, and I'll give you an update on a topic that has occupied a significant amount of my time. I joked with my staff recently; I said, 'I wasn't paying attention when the President talked to me, and I think I was named the Secretary of BSE.' It felt like that the first few weeks--we were spending so much time on the issue.

"But I have good news today. Three weeks ago Egypt announced the immediate resumption of imports to the U.S.--beef and beef products from animals less than 30 months. And just within the last few days Taiwan announced that it was resuming imports of U.S. beef and, again, good news in that area.

"Two weeks ago Canada and Mexico joined the United States to announce the establishment of a strategy to work on harmonization to manage BSE risk in all three nations, setting the stage, I believe, for a continued cooperative working relationship between those countries.

"We are not going to rest on our laurels. Those are good steps in the right direction, and we're doing everything we can to resume export of beef into other nations. In 2003 the total export value of U.S. beef and ruminant products was $7.5 billion. It was a major export item. After December 23, 2003, 64 percent of that market closed. I mean it just literally shut down. I said in a conversation recently that when it comes to trade you can have the best agreement, you can have the best negotiators, you can sign on the dotted line, and yet you run into this and it's all for naught because the borders shut down very, very quickly.

"So we are doing everything we can to regain that market, and I can tell you that 64 percent of the market closed. Today we've recovered well over a third of that, with 41 percent or $3.1 billion still remaining closed.

"There are still obstacles that we are working on to regain the rest of that market. Japan represents nearly half of the market that remains closed. You pick up your ag publications, you read a lot about our efforts, our work with Japan. That's why. That's why you're reading it. They're a major trading partner. They've been a consistent, solid, trading partner and good friends. And so we're working very hard to answer their questions and get that market open. Plus they're a leader in Asia, so we just have a sense that their leadership makes a difference in that part of the world.

"What remains for us is a strong effort on behalf of our American team. I will share with you, I think what you know already. Soon after coming to office, in fact I hadn't been on the job a week, I invited the ambassador from Japan to come to the USDA. We sat down and visited. We have had a series of policy meetings, technical exchanges, over the last 12 to 18 months. And we have been led by a gentleman that understands what it's all about, and that's our President. President Bush has, as you know, personally discussed this topic with the Prime Minister, which we appreciate.

"Secretary Rice was in Japan just last month, and one of the things that she brought up in her discussions with Japan was the need to resume beef trade. I could not be more appreciative to both the Secretary and the President.

"One reason I'm so dedicated to reopening foreign markets to American beef and beef products is I know it's safe. We have done all of the right things in this area. Science is very clearly on our side. We banned the specified risk materials. The ban on downer cattle, the increased surveillance.

"I will share with you what I told at the Senate Ag Appropriations Subcommittee just this week. We tested now, in about the last year, 314,000 animals. And in fact we've done that, and we have not found another case of BSE. Americans rightly feel safe about eating our beef products. My job is to help move that forward and to even increase the confidence that our consumers have in this product.

"Human health and animal health will always be our top priority. But in order to make sure that we are protecting human health and animal health, our decisions need to be based upon sound science. It is absolutely critical. It cannot be moved by the politics of the day in any country. In any country.

"So it is very, very important that we stick to that message, that we live by that message, we vote by that message, we do everything we can to pay attention to the fact that we must be governed by sound science.

"And in this case we felt very strongly that the science is clearly on our side of the argument.

"We are also working to reopen the Canadian border. I believe that restoring trade with Canada is in the best interest of American consumers, but it is also in the very best interest of this great industry, the beef industry in our nation.

"I am disappointed by the events recently, but we're going to continue to work at our goal of resuming normal trade relations in beef. The Senate voted to disapprove the rule that would have reopened the border. That's only a piece of the process, but it was disappointing. The court injunction was entered, and we're doing everything we can to work through that. In fact, that is now on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. We are appealing that injunction.

"If there were one message I would deliver about all of this--I said this to the cattle people in San Antonio. I said, you know, trade is not only a two-way street, it's a superhighway. We cannot treat one country one way, treat another country a different way, and expect that that will be ignored. It just doesn't work that way. It's too small a world these days.

"We cannot insist on one hand that our friends in Japan do one thing with us and yet follow a different course of action with another country. In Canada one of the things that we have found as we have studied is: they're very proud of their industry, and they believe very strongly that they're doing all of the right things. Our teams would indicate that they are. Our teams--we had a team travel north after the BSE discovery a couple of months ago and confirmed that Canada is in compliance with the feed ban. They do have a very robust program.

"Our decision to open the border conforms with international standards. The minimal risk rule was put in place with those standards in mind. And here's the bottom line. Keeping the Canadian border closed increases chances of Canada becoming a real live international competitor. They are increasing their processing; they make no bones about it. Their preference would be first and foremost to establish normal trade with the United States, but they're also beginning to recognize that they have to act also.

"And we see the processing increased. They talk about the processing increase. Let me offer a thought, though, and this did not come from me. This is a quote that came from Andy Mitchell who is the minister of Agriculture in Canada. He says and I quote: 'The uncertainty created by the closure of many borders including that of the United States to Canadian live cattle makes it imperative that we accelerate our efforts to regain and to expand our markets. The industry and governments will work together to launch an aggressive marketing campaign to increase exports and reduce our reliance on any one single market,' end of quote.

"Very, very clearly these folks are taking this seriously. My worry is that continued delay has a very downside impact on the small producer and processor that I represented so many years, not only in Nebraska but now that I represent, as Secretary of Agriculture. It is not a good situation.

"So the message is very clear, and believe me we won't let up until we normalize trade relations in this area.

"Let me wrap up with just a concluding thought. The President and I want to do everything we can for American farmers and ranchers and our rural communities in terms of their continued economic prosperity. The best way to do that is to continue to work with the industry and work with our partners in the industry. We have common goals, and we can reach them together.

"I appreciate your patience in listening to me. Thank you for your attention."


keep the border closed and you just have to compete with us somewhere else.
 

Tam

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Thank you Don for posting this I just wish more Americans could see the light and realize that the long term effects of R-CALFs stand is only going to hurt their industry.
 
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