Reactions Vary On USDA's Minimal Risk BSE Rule

While some organizations applaud the rule, others are not so happy.

Published on: Sep 17, 2007

The USDA released a rule on allowing cattle imports from nations designated of minimal risk for BSE. The rule is the final version of a rule that was first proposed in January. Currently, Canada is the only country with minimal risk status.

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association is in favor of the rule. NCBA President John Queen says cattlemen win in the global marketplace when trade is based on internationally accepted guidelines.

NCBA's chief economist Greg Doud doesn't see the rule making a major impact on the U.S. cattle market once it goes into effect after a 60-day waiting period.

"The primary result is expected to be additional imports of Canadian non-fed beef - rather than live cattle - which will replace lean beef imports from other countries such as New Zealand and Australia," Doud says.

R-CALF USA has been opposed to the minimal-risk rule and is concerned by what they feel is premature adoption of the rule. According to R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard, members of R-CALF have voted to stop USDA from allowing these higher-risk, older Canadian cattle into the U.S. and will use every means available to achieve their objective.

"One of the options available to Congress would be to pass a resolution of disapproval, which would essentially reverse the rule," Bullard says. "We're going to encourage Congress to do just that and we are certainly going to consider taking legal action if Congress is unable to act quick enough to prevent the implementation of this rule."

The rule is scheduled to be entered in the Federal Register on Sept. 18 with it going into effect on Nov. 19, 2007.