The Department of Agriculture is now allowing U.S. beef importers to obtain a permit that would allow them to ship cattle from Canada.
After discovering a lone case of mad cow disease in Alberta on May 20th, a ban was placed on the exporting of Canadian beef. The restriction since has been eased, and the USDA currently allows imports of Canadian boneless meat from cattle over 30 months of age.
While the move to issue the permits will undoubtedly improve the Canadian cattle industry by re-opening its main export market, American beef producers say a total repeal of the ban on Canadian beef cannot occur without three specific principles having been met.
First, according to the National Cattlemanâ€™s Beef Association, all decisions on trade requirements must be science-based.
Second, all standards agreed upon between the U.S. and other trading partners must be equivalent for both international and domestic consumers of beef.
Finally, the USDAâ€™s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service must seize the opportunity during negotiations to create a harmonization of animal health standards to allow the equitable flow of cattle in both directions.
The NCBA insists that any decision made must not increase the risk of the introduction of BSE into the U.S. The current firewall precautions against BSE include the restriction of importation of animals and animal products from countries which have BSE, ruminant feed restrictions, and aggressive, targeted surveillance.