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From: TSS ()
Subject: USDA's Johanns Says Mad-Cow Curbs on Canada Beef May Be Lifted
Date: April 20, 2006 at 11:48 am PST

USDA's Johanns Says Mad-Cow Curbs on Canada Beef May Be Lifted

April 20 (Bloomberg) -- Canada's fifth case of mad-cow disease won't stop the U.S. from expanding beef and cattle trade with its North American neighbor, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said.

Johanns, at a Washington news conference with his Canadian counterpart Chuck Strahl, said he is pushing for a rule to allow the U.S. to import cattle older than 30 months along with beef on bones. Johanns said he ``is very committed to getting it done'' even though a change won't occur this year because of recent Canadian cases of the disease, including one this month.

The U.S. banned Canadian cattle and beef in May 2003 after Canada's first mad-cow case. When the ban was eased in August 2003 to allow imports of boneless beef and cattle under 30 months of age, the Agriculture Department said it hoped to eventually end all restrictions. The U.S. only began importing younger Canadian cattle in July because of a court challenge.

Strahl, who took office in February, said he is proud of Canadian beef and expressed confidence in the ban Canada and the U.S. imposed in 1997 on certain feeding practices to stop the spread of mad-cow disease, which has a fatal human form. The latest infected animal, a six-year-old dairy cow from British Columbia, was born after the governments prohibited cattle feed enriched with ground-up cattle parts.

The Canadian minister said scientists have told him that ``from time to time'' an ``occasional animal will crop up'' with mad-cow disease, until the brain-wasting livestock illness is eliminated from North America.

Eight North American Cases

There have now been eight confirmed cases of mad-cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, in North America -- five in Canada and three in the U.S. One of the U.S. cases involved an animal born in Canada. For both countries, the discovery of the initial case prompted scores of trading partners to suspend beef imports.

The U.S. began accepting younger cattle from Canada in July, after a court found that the animals posed little danger of spreading BSE. Between July 18 and the end of 2005, U.S. cattle feedlots bought 210,814 young animals for fattening from Canadian ranchers, and U.S. processors purchased 310,241 head of cattle for slaughter, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture figures. Live cattle trade is worth about C$1.26 billion a year, the USDA said.

The Bank of Montreal estimated in November 2004 that Canada's livestock industry had lost C$5 billion ($4.34 billion) because of mad-cow disease, due to lost exports and lower prices created by a glut of animals. Exports of live cattle, which totaled C$1.83 billion in 2002, fell to zero in 2004, according to Statistics Canada, the national statistical agency.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Daniel Enoch in Washington at at

Last Updated: April 20, 2006 14:24 EDT


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