Here's something slightly more recent.
March 18 , 2005
TFB Task Force: No opposition
to Canadian beef imports By Mike Barnett
The Texas Farm Bureau Board of Directors voted to not oppose the United States Department of Agriculture's ruling to reopen the border between Canada and the U.S. to beef imports. The opening of the border, scheduled begin March 7, has been delayed by a temporary injunction by a federal judge in Montana.
The Board's decision was based on the recommendations of a Texas Farm Bureau Task Force considering critical issues related to three Canadian BSE cases. USDA's ruling would have allowed importation of beef from animals under the age of 30 months and importation of live animals going to restricted feedlots for harvest before 30 months of age.
"Our industry is in the best position we can be in at this time to take this action," the task force report said. "Further, it greatly enhances the possibility of reopening critical export markets such as Japan, Korea and Mexico. As difficult a decision as this is, we believe Texas beef producers will be best served by Farm Bureau not opposing the planned reopening on March 7".
In May, 2003, Canada announced the discovery of a cow with BSE, and the United States closed its borders to Canadian beef and live animals.
In August, 2003, boneless beef from animals under the age of 20 months was allowed to be imported into the U.S. from Canada.
Then, in December, 2003, a cow of Canadian origins was discovered in Washington state, and major importers closed their borders to U.S. beef products.
"Thus, the U.S. beef industry has been locked in a bureaucratic 'trade wedge'—reaping the same penalties from Japan and other countries that the U.S. has imposed on Canada," the report said.
The task force found that reopening the U.S. border to Canadian beef imports would have minimal impact on Texas producers.
"Cattle Fax (an industry marketing group) analysis indicates a possible impact of $2 per hundredweight for cattle coming out of the feedlot and $4 per hundredweight for the feeder market," the report said. "While price impact of reopening the border is an important consideration, a greater concern is fear of consumer resistance to prices being charged in the retail meat case, especially in comparison to retail prices for poultry and pork."
The task force reviewed the science related to BSE and concluded that allowing the importation of Canadian beef does not present a risk to consumers or the U.S. beef herds.
The task force said the American herd will remain safe from infection because:
1) BSE is not spread by animal-to-animal contact;
2) products and live animals to be imported are under 30 months of age, an age where BSE is not found; and
3) the feed ban, implemented in 1997, means that no part of any animal that could carry BSE will be fed to cattle.
"Understanding the science of BSE, reviewing the surveillance program in Canada, and seeing the very low number of cases found supports the decision to declare Canada a minimal risk country," the task force said.
The task force also found that reopening the border to Canadian beef is an important step to returning U.S. beef into the global marketplace.
"We claim our product is safe because of safeguards established since 1997, and Canada has enacted the same procedures," the task force said. "Since our beef is safe, why should we consider beef from Canada unsafe? To suggest otherwise opens the door for our trading partners to cast doubt on our American safeguards, as well as raises doubt among American consumers."
In conclusion, the Task Force advised producers of the critical and historic international relationship between Canada and the United States.
The report cited trade figures, which indicate Canada is the number one export market for U.S. goods and services to the tune of $189 billion annually. Total trade between the two countries is over $445 billion.
"We have over 200 years of relations, agreements and treaties," the report said. "Thus, it is an inevitable international political reality that Canadian beef trade with the U.S. will be restored now that the science, health and food safety issues appear resolved.
"With this in mind, we believe that U.S. and Texas beef producers will be best served to move forward with the administration's plans for reopening the border on March 7 (the statement was released prior to the Montana court decision to delay opening the border)."
The complete task force report can be found on the at the Texas Farm Bureau website: www.txfb.org.
Task Force Recommendations•That TFB not oppose the Dec. 29, 2004 rule opening the border to the importation of beef from animals under the age of 30 months of age, as "we find no economic or health reason to do so."
•That USDA develop (prior to opening the border) an orderly transition of movement plan to reduce the impact of beef products coming in immediately after March 7.
•That programs be developed to assist producers in adding value to their products through the use of an animal identification program. (It was recognized that some domestic and international markets are moving toward demanding an age and/or source-verified product.)
•That the TFB Board instruct staff to communicate to the Texas Congressional delegation and to the Bush administration the critical importance of reopening the borders of Japan and Korea. It is further recognized that TFB members communicate to the Texas members of Congress the importance of this Asian trade.
•That, as orderly marketing of beef and beef animals under the age of 30 months becomes a reality, there should be continued review of the science and economics of the remaining trade issues:
a.Beef from animals over the age of 30 months.
b.Live animals over the age of 30 months for harvest.
c.Export of "bone in" products.
d.Export of live animals for harvest in other countries.
e. Movement of beef seedstock. Currently, Texas seedstock producers are suffering difficult times as their primary markets in Mexico and South America are closed to them.
f. Movement of dairy animals, especially replacement heifers.