NFU, R-CALF Call for Canada Beef Trade Halt

Groups say USDA should suspend all imports of Canadian cattle because of Canada's latest BSE find.

Published on: Jan 24, 2006

Both R-CALF USA and National Farmers Union released statements this week calling for USDA to suspend all imports of Canadian cattle immediately because of Canada's latest bovine spongiform encephalopathy find.

"R-CALF has argued all along that there is a BSE problem in Canada, and that Canada has a far higher incidence of BSE than the United States does," says R-CALF USA President and Region V Director Chuck Kiker. "[Monday]'s announcement by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency revealed that this latest case also comes from Alberta, as did all the other Canadian BSE cases. This is disconcerting because Alberta is the primary export market for cattle and beef products sent to the United States. Obviously, this tells us the BSE prevalence rate in Alberta seems to be extremely higher than in other parts of Canada."

NFU President Dave Frederickson says the discovery "proves that [USDA] acted in haste" in reopening the U.S. border to Canadian cattle since "Canada still has problems with this disease."

"At a time when Canada is discovering additional BSE cases, reports are being made that meat inspections within Canadian plants do not meet U.S. standards and America's consumers have been denied the right to know where their food comes from via the mandatory country-of-origin labeling law," he says. "We expect USDA to put the interest of U.S. cattle producers and consumers first and immediately close the border to Canadian cattle and beef products."

R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard says it is no surprise that Canada has detected another case of BSE, and that Canada, all along, has acknowledged more cases are likely to be found in their cattle.

"Scientific experts have projected that the circumstances surrounding the first four cases of BSE detected in Canadian cattle do indeed strongly suggest that Canada has a significant BSE problem, and that it remains hidden from view because Canada has yet to test enough cattle to truly determine the scope of its disease problem," Bullard says. R-CALF says the number of cattle tested is insufficient by international standards.