Iowa Public Television


Cattle Markets Slow to React to Border Re-Opening

posted on July 22, 2005

The governor of Montana this week ordered his state's livestock department to inspect all cattle destined for import. Governor Brian Schweitzer says he ordered the inspections to quell lingering concerns about the potential spread of mad cow disease from Canada.

According to the governor, the inspections are necessary to ensure all imported cattle are less than 30 months of age ... the recognized threshold for the disease.

The trigger point for the renewed concerns over identification and traceability was this week's reopening of the border to Canadian cattle ... an issue still resonating through the legal system of the United States.

Cattle Markets Slow to React to Border Re-Opening On Wednesday, a federal judge in Montana postponed a trial concerning the U.S. border re-opening to Canadian cattle. The plaintiff, R-CALF, issued a statement that the trial postponement was necessary following last week's federal appellate court order to resume the beef trade.

The three judge panel from last week's ruling has yet to release its official opinion, which may impact the ruling in Montana. R-CALF, a group of more than 18,000 ranchers and cattlemen, opposes the USDA plan for renewed cattle shipments across the Canadian border. The first shipment in more than two years came across the border Monday in New York State. The shipment comes after two confirmed cases of BSE, or mad cow disease, in the United States. One such case was a dairy cow imported from Canada in 2003, and a U.S. produced steer from Texas one month ago.

The ban lift may help the U.S. meatpacking industry, which has lost an estimated 8,000 workers since the border closing. But the short-term price impact in the United States may be neutral. Increasing Canadian cattle prices and expanded slaughter capacity in Canada are projected to mitigate any significant U.S. economic impact.

Tags: agriculture animals beef Canada cattle diseases food safety livestock Mad Cow markets meat news trade