Oakland, CA – NMA asked to Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman to request a technical correction to a final rule that will to reopen the Canada-U.S. border to imports of live cattle from Canada.

The rule, which will be published in the Federal Register on January 4, 2005, establishes that certain countries may be eligible for classification as minimal-risk regions for BSE. Effective March 7, 2005, Canada will be considered the first such country. Although this unprecedented move is a positive step in troubled international trade, it is not without its unintended consequences.

“We’re pleased that USDA has finally announced the final rule, but we must express the gravest concern at the inequity that only cattle under 30 months may enter the U.S.,” said NMA Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow.

In its letter to Secretary Veneman, NMA noted that Unless it rectifies this inequity, the Department will outsource the U.S. cow slaughter industry to Canada.

    This is an industry that employs many thousands of hard-working men and women, and has invested $millions in infrastructure. It has been strongly supportive of the Department’s efforts to implement BSE mitigation efforts, including bearing the greatest burden of the surveillance program. It should not now be asked to stand by and watch its own government establish a gross inequity by allowing the importation of meat from Canadian cattle over 30 months in age, but not permitting the importation of these same cattle for direct slaughter in the United States.

Since the U.S. will be accepting meat from Canada derived from cattle over 30 months, the U. S. beef slaughterers of older cattle will have to compete with a glut of Canadian imports. Canada, unlike the U.S., is providing economic incentives to support its beef production industry, even to the point of providing money to build slaughter capacity.

“USDA will have to take further action if it doesn’t want its new rule to permanently damage U.S. cow slaughterers, especially smaller one.” said Mucklow.

The full text of NMA’s letter is available here.

National Meat Association is a non-profit trade association. Since 1946, NMA has represented meat packers and processors, equipment manufacturers and food suppliers who provide services to the meat industry. The association has members throughout the United States, as well as in Canada, Australia and Mexico.



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Jeremy Russell
National Meat Association
(510) 763-1533
[email protected]

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