The USDA announced this week it was investigating another potential case of mad cow disease. Initial tests on a cow that died on the undisclosed farm where it lived indicated the presence of the disease. But USDA also called the tests inconclusive. More comprehensive testing is under way.
Officials stressed the animal posed no threat to the food supply since it never entered to food chain.
Beyond the lab tests, of course, lie the nuts and bolts of any investigation into a potential case of mad cow disease. And that's the production and marketing of beef cattle. That's an enterprise that Canadian producers are relearning this week, albeit rather slowly.
The U.S. border has been open to Canadian cattle for 11 days, as of Friday. But thus far, there's been no great flood of those cattle entering the States.
USDA reports only about 2,000 head of cattle had crossed the borer by the beginning of the week. Analysts attribute the slow start on a number of factors, including a shortage of companies to haul the goods.
Dow Jones quotes analysts who say many of Canada's former cattle truckers found better paying jobs in the oil industry after the U.S. border was closed to Canadian beef imports in May 2003.
Since the border reopened, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued just 123 certificates to Canadian drivers.
Analysts predict imports of Canadian beef will rise as U.S. companies retool the import infrastructure that was shut down more than two years ago. The CEO of Cargill Meat Solutions says his company bought one truckload of Canadian beef on July 18 ... and now is preparing to buy more.
The U.S. only will allow the import of cattle under 30 months of age, and then only if they are to be slaughtered immediately or placed in a single feedlot before slaughter.