Concerns arise from USDA decision to allow OTM live cattle from Canada | TSLN.com

Concerns arise from USDA decision to allow OTM live cattle from Canada

The South Dakota Stockgrowers Association (SDSGA) said they are extremely disappointed in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announcement to allow imports of OTM live cattle from Canada. According to APHIS, Canada is a country that is recognized as presenting a minimal risk of introducing bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) into the United States.

Comments were submitted by SDSGA opposing the importation of over 30 month old (OTM) cattle.

Stockgrower’s president, Larry Nelson of Buffalo, SD questions the validity of guidelines set by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) that designates both the United States and Canada as “minimal risk” countries.

“The United States has only had three cases diagnosed as BSE (the first being a cow from Canada and the other two were atypical) and in that same period of time Canada has had 10 or more, part of them born well after the feed ban was supposed to be implemented,” said Nelson.

The final rule allows importation from Canada of:

1. Live cattle and other bovines (i.e., bison) for any use (including breeding) born on or after, March 1, 1999, which APHIS has determined to be the date of effective enforcement of Canada’s ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban;

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2. Blood and blood products derived from bovines, collected under certain conditions; and

3. Casings and part of the small intestine derived from bovines.

Stockgrower’s past president, Rick Fox of Hermosa, SD, says, “Once again APHIS did not use sound science in making a decision that is not only a risk to the health of our nation’s herd, but also endangers the safety of our consumers.” Fox added, “It seems the United States is becoming a dumping ground for food and food products that other countries will not accept.”

U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin also expressed strong opposition to the final adoption of the USDA rule to open the Canadian border to live cattle over 30 months of age.

Rep. Herseth Sandlin, who serves on the House Agriculture Committee, said, “I continue to believe that the risk outweighs the reward when it comes to further opening the Canadian border. Stripping out these common sense protections will place our domestic herd at risk. Opening the border threatens the economic livelihoods of American ranchers.”

Rep. Herseth Sandlin said she holds serious concerns about the repeated incidents of Canadian cattle found to harbor BSE, some born long after a ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban went into effect in that country, and the threat these discoveries hold for the U.S. domestic herd. She also believes that opening the border will undermine the ability to reestablish foreign markets important to South Dakota’s cattle industry.

Scott Jones, President of the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association (SDCA), also expressed concerns with the USDA decision.

“SDCA is disappointed that USDA has chosen to implement this rule during the fall marketing period so critical to South Dakota cattlemen,” said Jones in a statement released Saturday, Sept. 15. “However, ninety-six percent of the world’s consumers reside outside of the U.S. and our continued growth and profitability is closely tied to our ability to market our products to those consumers.

“While SDCA is disappointed with some aspects of this rule, we understand that we must band together with other North American producers to implement trade policies that will position all of us to be in a stronger negotiating position with fickle overseas trading partners. The United States is not in a position to be isolationist and we must treat our trading partners as we wish to be treated. Opposing this rule on unfounded fears is counterproductive.”

The final rule was included in the Sept. 18, 2007 and becomes effective Nov. 19, 2007.