Mexico to allow importation of U.S. breeding cattle
Mexico has agreed to allow importation of breeding cattle from the United States and Canada effective March 28, 2008, Agriculture Secretary Edward Schafer announced March 27.
Mexico denied access to U.S. breeding stock beginning December 23, 2003, when the United States announced its first-ever case of BSE. Since that time, Mexico has only allowed importation of registered U.S. dairy heifers under the age of 24 months, despite in-depth international negotiations to include breeding stock.
“This is a big win for U.S. cattle producers – and in particular – those in the seedstock community,” says Gregg Doud, chief economist for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). “Mexico is currently working to expand its herds, so this decision comes at a critical time.”
Traditionally, the United States has shipped approximately $125 million annually in live cattle breeding stock to Mexico.
When the United States implemented the second Minimal Risk Regions Rule on November 19, 2007, it was widely believed that Mexico would lift the restriction on breeding stock. But the situation between the United States and Mexico on breeding stock remained unresolved until March 27.
Mexico continues to ban the import of beef and beef products from animals over 30 months of age.
“The issue of over-30-month beef to Mexico has always been extremely sensitive politically,” says Doud. “However, NCBA’s expectation is that once Mexico receives its ‘controlled risk’ status from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), which is expected in May, then this issue should be resolved as well.”
OIE recommendations, which are based on the latest science, provide guidelines for trade in cattle of any age, as well as beef and many other cattle products. These guidelines apply to all OIE risk country classifications for BSE with recommended mitigation measures appropriately applied to protect both human and animal health.
“Canada, Mexico and the United States have been engaged in candid, productive talks over the past two days,” said Secretary Schafer. “We mutually agreed on the importance of normalizing beef and cattle trade in North America, consistent with the guidelines established by the World Organization for Animal Health.”