USDA Plans to Lift Older Canadian Cattle Ban

New rule expected in the next six to eight months to allow cattle older than 30 months of age.

Published on: Nov 18, 2005

The Bush Administration plans to lift BSE-related restrictions on Canadian cattle by proposing a new rule in the next six to eight months, according to Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service  Administrator Ron DeHaven.

Restrictions on the import of Canadian cattle, in place since 2003, were lifted earlier this year for younger animals, but older cattle – 30 months of age and older – and the beef derived from them are still barred.

The ongoing ban on importing older Canadian cattle has cost the U.S. valuable meatpacking jobs and has hurt producers, consumers, and the packing industry and its employees. Further unwarranted delay will only exacerbate an already difficult situation for many of those companies and communities, according to the American Meat Institute.

As recently as Tuesday, AMI President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle met with Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns and urged him to restore full cattle and beef trade with Canada immediately. During the meeting, he reiterated messages included in a July letter he sent to Johanns, in which he says, "Many U.S. beef packers that specialize in the slaughter of older animals still find themselves in an extremely difficult economic situation because cattle 30 months of age and older are not permitted entry from Canada."

Also in the July letter, Boyle notes BSE prevention and control measures implemented in both Canada and the U.S. are virtually identical and both countries have taken extraordinary measures to assure the safety of the beef supply and to protect cattle health. USDA has designated Canada - and only Canada – as a minimal risk region, he adds.