WASHINGTON – The U.S. gates reopen to Canadian cattle and beef products March 7.
USDA officials say they are “confident” in the animal and public health measures Canada has in place to prevent bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease.
‘Virtually no risk.’ The agency released its assessment of the Canadian ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban Feb. 25, re-emphasizing its belief that livestock and cattle health are not compromised by the open border.
“This assessment affirms our science-based decision to begin lifting the ban on live ruminants and ruminant products from Canada that have virtually no risk to human or animal health,” said Ron DeHaven, administrator of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
Must meet U.S. regs. When Canadian ruminants and ruminant products are presented for importation into the United States, they become subject to domestic safeguards as well.
On Jan. 4, USDA published a final rule that amends the regulations to provide for the importation of certain ruminants, ruminant products and byproducts from regions that pose a minimal risk of introducing BSE.
Canada, the first country recognized as a “minimal-risk region,” is eligible to export live cattle, as well as certain other animals and products from animals under 30 months.
Can’t move around. Live cattle imported from Canada must be slaughtered by the time they reach 30 months.
Other restrictions include permanent marking of the animals as to their origin, requiring them to move in sealed containers to a feedlot or to slaughter, and not allowing them to move to more than one feedlot while in the United States.
See for ourselves. Following two recent BSE finds in Canada, USDA sent a team to conduct an assessment of Canada’s compliance with the ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban.
The feed ban has been determined to be an important BSE risk mitigation measure to protect animal health.
APHIS officials say compliance by feed mills and rendering facilities in Canada to their feed ban regulations is good, although Canada is continually looking for ways to make it better.
Canada has proposed the removal of “specified risk materials” from all animal feeds, a step the United States has not yet taken.
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