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R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America

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HAY MAKER

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R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America


For Immediate Release Contact: Shae Dodson, Communications Coordinator
November 17, 2005 Phone: 406-672-8969; e-mail: [email protected]



U.S. Cattle Producers Disagree with USDA Plans

to Allow into the U.S. Older Canadian Cattle, Beef Products



(Billings, Mont.) – On Wednesday Ron DeHaven, administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), announced the agency plans to revise its bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) restrictions. Under this new proposal, Canadian cattle over 30 months of age would be allowed into the U.S. by mid-2006. R-CALF USA President-Elect Chuck Kiker made the following statement in reaction to this announcement:



“USDA’s plan to lift U.S. import restrictions that would allow Canadian over-thirty-month (OTM) cattle into the U.S. by mid-2006 shows the agency is continuing its push to give market access to our competitors before we regain our lost export markets abroad. In addition, DeHaven’s comments show USDA is ignoring the increased risk these older Canadian cattle pose to the U.S. cattle herd and to U.S. consumers, which is particularly disconcerting because USDA scientists have determined these older Canadian cattle to be of higher risk.



“R-CALF is concerned with the BSE prevalence rate in Canada (4 cases) in relation to that of the United States (1 case). While we praise USDA for its efforts to reopen our beef export markets, its work toward reopening the Japanese market is concentrated around animals 21 months of age and younger. On the other hand, this latest proposal by USDA will allow into the U.S. foreign cattle 30 months of age and older, and the associated beef products from those animals.



“At some point, all countries that import and export cattle and beef products must reach agreement on the highest standards of rules for global beef trade.



“Any effort by the agency to move ahead with these plans not only will increase the financial risks to U.S. cattle producers, but also potentially expose the U.S. to an increased risk of importing BSE into the United States.



“R-CALF’s original case against USDA (filed in January 2005), in our efforts to force the agency to withdraw its Final Rule that allowed into the U.S. younger Canadian cattle, has not yet been resolved. R-CALF is continuing, in federal court, efforts to strengthen our BSE protections, and how our case is resolved will decide whether or not USDA can go forward with a new rule for older cattle. If this case is settled in R-CALF's favor, it obviously would preempt any attempt by USDA to write another rule for older animals.



“R-CALF was granted a preliminary injunction on March 2 that stopped USDA's rule from taking effect on March 7, as the agency had planned, but was overturned on USDA’s appeal in July. Canadian cattle younger than 30 months of age began entering the U.S. on July 18.



“We are still drafting a petition for a court hearing on a permanent ban against Canadian slaughter and feeder cattle. All of the scientific arguments that we used to win the preliminary injunction are even stronger against allowing OTM cattle into the U.S., and even USDA scientists have repeatedly made clear the risk of importing older Canadian cattle into the United States.



“It’s important that beef consumers understand this proposal by USDA makes it more critical than ever to implement Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling at once so consumers can make informed decisions when choosing between USA Beef or foreign beef products for their families.”



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R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on domestic and international trade and marketing issues. R-CALF USA, a national, non-profit organization, is dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. R-CALF USA’s membership consists primarily of cow-calf operators, cattle backgrounders, and feedlot owners. Its members – over 18,000 strong – are located in 47 states, and the organization has over 60 local and state association affiliates, from both cattle and farm organizations. Various main street businesses are associate members of R-CALF USA. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516.
 

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