6/9/2005 8:36:00 AM
NFU Participates in USDA’s Discussion About Beef Safety and Canadian Border
ST. PAUL, MN (June 9, 2005) – National Farmers Union testified as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s roundtable discussion concerning the safety of the U.S. beef supply and the economic impact of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
Minnesota Farmers Union Vice President, Dennis Sjodin, speaking on behalf of NFU’s 250,000 family farmers and ranchers, voiced concerns regarding USDA’s rush to opening U.S. beef and cattle markets to countries with documented cases of BSE.
“NFU believes the BSE trade issue needs to be resolved as quickly as possible without compromising the integrity of the U.S. beef industry,” said Sjodin. “However, that does not mean potentially risking the economic health and safety of our domestic cattle industry and consumer confidence.”
NFU says it is a mistake to rush to change science-based policies that have served as the foundation of our decisions in the past—in order to open our borders to BSE-positive countries—until those changes are first accepted and acknowledged by our trading partners. NFU maintains that the following steps should also be taken before the border is re-opened for Canadian cattle and beef products:
-- Verification that Canada’s cattle herd and beef products are BSE-free and have achieved100 percent compliance with the ruminant feed ban;
-- U.S. mandatory country-of-origin labeling is fully implemented;
-- U.S beef export markets are wholly re-established;
-- A guaranteed economic safety net for American producers is established in case the importation of cattle and beef products from BSE-positive countries undermines domestic profitability; and
-- Rapid-test technology is provided to all U.S. slaughtering facilities.
A credible national animal identification system, fully funded by the federal government, which provides the necessary securities to both producers and consumers, is in place.