LIVESTOCK GROUPS OUTLINE STEPS FOR CANADIAN IMPORTS
Several U.S. and Canadian livestock groups are urging U.S. authorities to use a Harvard risk assessment on bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) as one part of a series of steps to reopen the U.S. border to meat imports from Canada. The American Meat Institue, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Meat Association and the Canadian Cattlemen's Association urged the appropriate agencies to meet the deadline.
A science-based approach based on the Harvard BSE risk assessment that gains global acceptance will be needed to reopen the border, the groups said in a letter to U.S. and Canadian government officials. In addition, agriculture groups are advocating for the first time the development of an individual animal identification system for U.S. cattle, similar to the animal id system that has been in place in Canada since the beginning of 2002. All groups also agreed to expand BSE surveillance in the United States and in Canada.
A three-step process would re-establish trade between the United States and Canada and the rest of the world, they said, including the Harvard assessment. First, they said, USDA and Canadian Food Inspection Agency, along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada, must determine, based upon science, the short, intermediate, and long term steps that need to be taken to re-establish trade in cattle, beef, and beef products, while protecting public health and animal health for the long term;
All parties must communicate with trading partners worldwide, respective governments, consumers' groups and others to gain acceptance of these measures by the end of this month or sooner.
Their letter was addressed to USDA Secretary Ann M. Veneman, Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lyle Vanclief, FDA Commissioner Mark B. McClellan and Canadian Minister of Health Anne McLellan.