Monthly Archives: January 2006

Japan may seek to limit future U.S. beef imports

Japan may seek to limit future U.S. beef imports

by John Gregerson
on 1/27/2006

Japanese Vice Agriculture Minister Mamoru Ishihara said Thursday that Japan is considering importing U.S. beef only from about 10 facilities Japanese officials have already inspected. Japan dispatched a team of inspectors to 11 facilities in five states — Colorado, Kansas, Texas, Nebraska and California — in December, days after announcing it was easing its import ban on U.S. beef. However, other developments suggest it is unlikely Japan will soon lift the ban on U.S. beef it reimposed last Friday. A U.S. delegation led by Agriculture Undersecretary J.B. Penn discussed the ban with Japanese authorities in Tokyo on Tuesday and Wednesday, but apparently failed to allay concerns about the reliability of the U.S. food safety system, Japanese officials told reporters.U.S. officials emphasized the veal with spinal material shipped from New York to Tokyo last week resulted from human error and was an isolated case. However, the explanation has not satisfied Japanese officials, who note that a U.S. government inspector at the packing plant, one of about 40 facilities certified by the U.S. government as eligible beef suppliers to Japan, was unaware of the violation.”We want them to reconstruct the inspection system from the beginning,” Agriculture Minister Shoichi Nakagawa said, adding that Japan could not resume imports until the Agriculture Department identified the cause of the violation and took measures to prevent a similar incident from occurring.Japanese officials also were annoyed by U.S. remarks that appeared to play down the risk of bovine spongiform encephalopathy. “In fact, probably getting out of your automobile and walking into the store to buy beef, has a higher probability that you’ll be hit by an automobile than … the probability of any harm coming to you from eating beef,” U.S. Agriculture Undersecretary J.B. Penn told reporters.Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Jinen Nagase said U.S. officials should refrain from remarks that sounded like they were not serious about the issue.

Contrition goes a long way in Japan, U.S. military, diplomats discover

Contrition goes a long way in Japan, U.S. military, diplomats discover

January 26, 2006


Chicago Sun TImes

TOKYO — It’s among the most Japanese of traditions: officials accused of wrongdoing go before the cameras to express deep regret and promise to make sure it never happens again.

But lately, the bowed heads in Japan are American.

Taking a cue from Japanese culture, in the last few weeks a raft of U.S. officials — from the U.S. military, the U.S. Embassy, and the departments of State, Agriculture and Defense — have gone before Japanese officials to humbly ask for forgiveness.

The reasons have been serious.

In one instance, a U.S. sailor was accused of beating a Japanese woman to death outside Tokyo. In the other, a shipment of American beef violated Japanese food safety rules, prompting a halt to further imports.

In both cases, American officials have gone out of their way to pour on the regret — challenging stereotypes among a people who consider themselves the world’s premier apology artists.

”I figured the U.S. side would come up with some kind of excuse, but since they admitted it so honestly, it makes me think that the United States values relations with Japan,” said Hisao Iwajima, political scientist at Tokyo’s Seigakuin University.

The importance of apology in Japan is hard to overstate.

A person can easily ask forgiveness a dozen times in a day in Japan, using several different phrases. Store clerks will insist to a customer that ”there is no excuse” for having made him wait a matter of seconds.

Practical reasons

Niceties aside, the American effort to satisfy the Japanese makes hard-nosed diplomatic sense.

Major issues are at stake. On the military front, the United States can hardly risk a blowup of anti-American sentiment as it realigns its position in Japan and ramps up its military cooperation with Tokyo — which has troops in Iraq as part of the U.S.-led coalition.

And Washington has a lot to lose by alienating Japanese consumers, who once constituted the largest overseas market for U.S. beef — $1.4 billion worth in 2003.

”It is obvious that the U.S. government tried to protect the general interests of American exporters,” said Michio Royama, a political scientist and commentator.


US senator urges CAFTA delay over meat inspections

US senator urges CAFTA delay over meat inspections

WASHINGTON, Jan 25 (Reuters) – The United States must not implement a hard-won trade pact with Central America until those countries accept the U.S. meat inspection system, vital for giving the U.S. industry access to new markets, a top Senator said on Wednesday.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said he had written to U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman, noting the countries had committed to recognize the U.S. meat inspection system as their own but that not all have done so.

He did not identify any of the countries by name.

The U.S.-Central America Free Trade Pact among the United States, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic — known as CAFTA-DR– was narrowly approved by Congress last summer after a bitter fight.

The White House had a harder time rounding up votes for CAFTA than for any other recent trade pact. Democrats oppose what they call weak labor and environment provisions, and some Republicans from textile and sugar-producing states fear job losses.

“The recognition of the U.S. meat inspection system by the CAFTA-DR countries was imminent at the time the CAFTA-DR implementing legislation was introduced in June 2005,” Grassley said in a letter to Portman, adding it formed “an important part of the context in which Congress approved the implementing bill.”

By recognizing the U.S. system, the CAFTA countries would accept the import eligibility of all USDA-approved meatpacking facilities, Grassley said. Some CAFTA countries currently require plant-by-plant inspections of individual U.S. facilities and these plant-by-plant inspections in effect limit exports of U.S. meat.

“I see no need for you to rush the implementation of the CAFTA-DR until this pending matter is resolved,” Grassley wrote.

A spokeswoman for the USTR’s office responded: “Having countries recognize the U.S. food safety system as equivalent is key prior to implementation of FTAs. DR-CAFTA countries clearly understood the need to recognize the U.S. food safety inspection system prior to implementation.”

“We are continuing to work with DR-CAFTA countries on implementation issues,” the spokeswoman added.

The United States missed its target date of Jan. 1 for implementing the CAFTA agreement, but said last month it hoped the countries involved would write it into law in the next couple of months.

Ag Expected to be on the Budget Chopping Block Again

Ag Expected to be on the Budget Chopping Block Again

KTIC Radio

Last year – President Bush proposed a 250-thousand dollar hard cap on farm program payments. Washington sources say the President’s Fiscal Year 2007 budget proposal will once again propose changes to farm program payment limits. That’s despite the belief of some southern lawmakers they had a commitment from the White House that the issue wouldn’t be addressed again until the new farm bill debate.

If sources are correct – the Bush budget proposal will also call for even greater farm program spending cuts than called for last year. Last year’s package included reductions in farm program spending by 5.7-billion dollars over 10 years.

Washington rancher talks about mad-cow discovery

Washington rancher talks about mad-cow discovery

Bill Jackson, Greeley Tribune
January 26, 2006

Bill Wavin said there was no way to prepare for what happened to his family the evening of Dec. 23, 2003.

Wavin, his brother and mother own the Sunny Dene Ranch of Mabton, Wash., a 4,000-cow dairy and farming operation. On the evening of Dec. 23, the family learned from the USDA that the Holstein cow first confirmed to have bovine spongiform encephalopathy — mad cow disease — had come from their farm.

Wavin, who is also a large-animal veterinarian, was the featured speaker for Dairy Days at the 2006 Colorado Farm Show on Wednesday. He told the overflow crowd in the Exhibition Building that it was only the third time he has spoken publicly about the situation that has had worldwide ramifications for the beef industry.

“I am not a public speaker. I am a farmer and a veterinarian, and I am media-shy. But I will say up front the media treated us right and treated the industry right,” Wavin said.

Wavin said he had heard media reports of a cow with BSE coming from his area of eastern Washington earlier in the day. But the initial reports had the wrong town and that the dairy had been quarantined.

“We hadn’t been quarantined, so I knew it wasn’t us,” he said. And that continued to be the feeling until the 8 p.m. call came from the USDA and Washington state agriculture officials.

Wavin said he and his family decided they would not talk to the media directly, but let USDA, FDA and state officials handle that for them, which, in retrospect, was a smart decision, he said.

Wavin said his family’s belief system and their belief in God is what pulled them through the initial shock. It was the support of his family, his community, the USDA, FDA and even the media who got them through the days after the incident.

“Just 24 hours after we got word, we went to church for Christmas Eve services. I sat across from a man who had a 70,000-head (cattle) feeding operation, and I knew I had changed his life. I knew he could be upset with me. But that didn’t happen. It was remarkable how supportive everyone was,” Wavin said.

He said that support continued through the following few days. His cooperative sent milk trucks out to collect milk from his cows.

“Six hours after the announcement, the trucks rolled right up in front of the press to get our milk. Vendors showed up to do their jobs. I think that sense of normalcy was comforting to the public,” he said. “Here was the first case of BSE in the United States, and nobody panicked.”

Wavin said he feels terrible about the collateral damage that has been done since that incident more than two years ago, but every other aspect of it was positive.

He lost 141 head from his dairy because they could have come from the same Canadian herd from which he bought the infected cow; the first reaction could have been to shut down everything and see his entire herd destroyed.

“The industry today is the same as it was with the guy with 40 cows years ago who was busting his hump to provide food for this nation. It just looks different now. Now, there are so many who are far removed from the farm that an inherent distrust could develop. But that has not happened,” Wavin said.

Mad cow again! Action needed now

Mad cow again! Action needed now
New feed rules must be at top of Harper’s list

Paula Simons
The Edmonton Journal

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Editor’s note: This is written as an open letter to Canada’s new prime minister, Stephen Harper

Dear Stephen,

I know you were busy Monday, winning an election and all. But there’s an important matter I want to bring to your prime ministerial attention. If you want to do Alberta beef producers and Alberta beef consumers a big favour, start by putting a comprehensive mad cow prevention policy at the top of your national “to do” list.

On Monday, while Canadians went to the polls, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced another cow had tested positive for BSE: bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

Our latest mad cow was a 69-month-old breeding heifer, a Holstein-Hereford cross, from somewhere in north-central Alberta. That’s the fifth infected Canadian-born cow that’s turned up, and the fifth born and raised in this general area.

Given how many, many more cattle we test for BSE these days, it was only to be expected that we would find a few more sick animals. Back before we found our first mad cow in June of 2003, Alberta was only testing 150 to 200 specimens a year. Last year, Canada tested 57,766 cattle. Of those 30,536, or 53 per cent, were from Alberta. All were high-risk animals from the so-called 4D group: dead, distressed, diseased or downers.

With that massive increase in surveillance, finding one more positive sample should be no surprise. Indeed, it would scarcely be cause for alarm.

There’s just one problem.

This particular cow was only six years old. She was born in April 2000, three years after Canada instituted the feed ban that was supposed to prevent the spread of mad cow disease. That ban completely forbade the use of rendered cows, sheep, elk and other ruminants in cattle feed. The leading scientific thinking on BSE says that’s how cows get prion disease — by eating rendered protein from infected animals.

All the other sick cows we’ve found were either born before the ban or just after it came into effect.

So how did this heifer get infected? So far, no one knows.

It’s a troubling question — with even more troubling answers.

Are we to believe some farmer had contaminated three-year-old feed left over and that he fed it to his stock in defiance or ignorance of the law?

Or perhaps our existing national feed ban isn’t stringent enough.


Missouri cattlemen in cow-tag program hit hard by beef ban

Missouri cattlemen in cow-tag program hit hard by beef ban


Posted on Wednesday, January 25, 2006


BOWLING GREEN, Mo. — Missouri cattlemen who volunteered for a one-of-a-kind tagging program were especially stung when Japan closed its borders to U. S. beef again on Friday.

In October, Missouri became the first and only state to develop and implement the program that identifies the source and age of its feeder cattle. The claims are verified by the U. S. Department of Agriculture.

That was crucial to the Japanese, who would not buy beef from an animal older than 20 months over concerns that age increases the potential for mad cow disease.

With 70, 000 beef producers, Missouri is second only to Texas in the number of calf-producing cows. Those numbers, along with participation in the USDA-run program, positioned Missouri to be a bigger supplier of live cattle for beef export, said Missouri cattle rancher Mike John, presidentelect of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

John said Friday he was “very disappointed” that Japan shut down the market to U. S. beef. “It’s tragic that these things have to happen. The world works on perception and these things tend to have a ripple effect.”


How pure is the U.S. beef supply, really?

How pure is the U.S. beef supply, really?

How safe is our food supply from mad cow disease and what is the U.S. government doing to protect consumers? Phil Lempert shares the latest

By Phil Lempert
“Today” Food Editor
Updated: 5:42 p.m. ET Jan. 24, 2006

It has long been argued in this space that the approach taken by the U.S. government in dealing with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) — better known as mad cow disease — has been lackadaisical and insufficient to guarantee the integrity of the meat supply and the safety of American consumers. We have long pointed to the Japanese model — test every cow, now matter what — as the only legitimate approach that can be employed to deal with the mad cow threat.

Government officials, however, have disputed this assertion, claiming that everything was fine, the safety net was pulled tight enough, and that there is nothing to worry about.


BSE in Canadian cow sets back effort to regain lost markets

BSE in Canadian cow sets back effort to regain lost markets

1/24/2006- Another cow with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) has been found in Canada, a second blow against the US’ recent success at regaining its international markets. Since the closing of many countries to US beef exports in December 2003, the country had managed to recover access to 82 per cent of its former markets, originally worth about $3.9 billion.
But last week Japan again cut off US beef exports after the country’s agriculture ministry said inspectors found banned cattle backbone material in three of 41 boxes in a shipment.
Japan, the largest market for US beef exports, had only resumed imports from the US last month after a ban was imposed in May 2003. The finding of banned cattle parts violated the bilateral agreement with the US meant to keep BSE out of Japan.
With the confirmation yesterday that Canada had found BSE in another cow, other foreign buyers will now be questioning whether the US has safe beef.
US and Canadian officials are trying to downplay the finding. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said the discovery of BSE in a six-year-old cross-bred cow born and raised in Alberta was “not unexpected”.
No part of the animal entered the human food or animal feed systems, the CFIA stated. The inspectors noted that the case was discovered though the country’s national surveillance programme, which targets cattle at highest risk of being infected with BSE. The programme has tested more than 87,000 animals since Canada’s first BSE case in 2003.
“This detection is consistent with a low level of disease and does not indicate an increased risk of BSE in Canada,” the CFIA stated. “Based on the guidelines and certification recommendations of the World Organisation for Animal Health, this finding should not affect Canada’s ability to export live animals, beef and beef products.”
Meanwhile US agriculture secretary Mike Johanns said he anticipates no change in the status of beef or live cattle imports to the US from Canada due to the new case.
“I am confident in the safety of beef and in the safeguards we and our approved beef trading partners have in place to protect our food supply,” he stated. “We will continue to adhere to international guidelines in our relationships with all trading partners, and my hope continues to be that we achieve a system of science-based global beef trade.”
Japan, Korea and others prohibited imports of US beef and beef products following the detection in 2003 of BSE in a single cow of Canadian origin in Washington State.
Japan was the largest importer of US beef prior to 2003, buying up $1.4 billion worth of the meat a year.
The US this month also reported reaching agreement with South Korea to resume exports later this year. Korea was the US’ third largest market for beef exports.
In 2003, before the ban took effect, the US exported $815 million worth of beef and beef products to Korea, of which $449 million was boneless beef.
Thailand, China, Taiwan and Singapore still have bans on US beef.
A study released last April by the Kansas Agriculture Department estimates the industry lost up to $4.7 billion last year because of the mad cow case in Washington.
Scientists believe eating the BSE infected beef is the cause of the human variant, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a fatal brain disorder that led to the death of about 150 people, mostly in the UK in the 1990s.

No sign other countries will ban US beef-USDA’s Johanns

No sign other countries will ban US beef-USDA’s Johanns

WASHINGTON, Jan 25 (Reuters) – There are no signs other countries are considering closing their borders to U.S. beef following the discovery of forbidden spinal material in veal sent to Japan, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said Wednesday.
“We haven’t had an indication from any country yet that they would follow the action of Japan,” Johanns told reporters.
Tokyo suspended trade five days ago after its inspectors found the material in a shipment of U.S. veal. Japan requires removal from all U.S. beef the brains, spinal columns and other nervous tissue most at risk of carrying the infective agent for mad cow disease. The United States says the materials pose no threat in the younger animals used in trade with Japan.

US welcomes end to Taiwan beef ban

US welcomes end to Taiwan beef ban

Netscape News

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns welcomed news that Taiwan is lifting a ban on imports of US beef imposed to keep out mad cow disease.

“I’m extremely pleased with Taiwan’s resumption of trade in US beef,” Johanns said in a statement. “This advances our goal to resume normal beef trade throughout the world that follows science-based international guidelines in food and animal safety,” he said. Taiwan said it would allow the resumption of shipments of boneless US beef taken from cattle aged under 30 months, which are considered to be safe from bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

Taiwan reopened its market to US beef in April after a two-year ban but closed it again in June following the confirmation of a second case of BSE in a US cow.

In 2003, the United States exported more than 76 million dollars’ worth of beef to Taiwan.
A number of Asian countries have in recent weeks lifted bans on US beef. But Japan last week re-imposed its ban after the discovery of banned spinal material in a shipment of veal from New York..

Latest Canadian BSE case not unexpected, experts say

Latest Canadian BSE case not unexpected, experts say

by John Gregerson
on 1/24/2006 for

Officials on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border are saying that the discovery of BSE in a 6-year-old Alberta animal “is not unexpected,” but rather consistent with projections that additional Canadian cases would be uncovered as a result of “residual infectivity” following the ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban Canada implemented in 1997. “We’ve seen the same thing in other countries,” Dr. Brian Evans, Canada’s chief veterinary officer, told “The United Kingdom implemented its first feed ban in 1988, but it wasn’t until 1992 or 1993 that it broke the back of the BSE epidemic and began to see infections fall off.” “We simply have to look at the BSE experience worldwide,” agreed American Meat Institute Foundation President James H. Hodges, also speaking to “Most countries that had BSE also had it after bans were put in place.” Feed residue may be culprit Evans explained that because even small amounts of infective tissue — even as small as a grain of sand — can transmit BSE when animals are at their most susceptible age, it’s not unreasonable to assume that animals can contract the disease from residue remaining on a feed bin or feed auger. He also said “the potential [for infection] will always be there” as long as other potential vectors of infectivity, including poultry litter in cattle feed, exist. “That’s why we continue to perform surveillance,” he said. Hodges said ongoing surveillance in Canada and the United States indicates “a high level of statistical confidence that if BSE exists in either country, it exists at very, very low levels.” The geographic location and age of the animal identified Monday are consistent with the three domestic cases previously detected through Canada’s surveillance program. Evans said the fact that the age of the infected animal, born in April 2000, is consistent with the bottom threshold of the other three infected animals discovered — 70 months to 80 months — is reason for optimism. He cited the Harvard Risk Assessment for BSE, which indicates that once BSE is significantly reduced in cattle populations, the disease eventually dies out. “That said, I wouldn’t want to identify a date threshold, because it would be based upon assumptions that may or may not happen,” said Evans. Evans said that when Canada uncovers a case of BSE, a molecular assessment of the diseased tissue is performed to determine whether the case has a common affiliation with other cases. He also indicated that a live animal test for the disease, if it becomes available, would help in further eradicating the disease. Industry reaction muted Meanwhile, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns indicated he anticipated no change in the status of beef or live cattle imports to the United States from Canada. Elsewhere, Stan Eby, president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, said Monday’s diagnosis “is proof that [Canada’s surveillance program] is working.” AMI President J. Patrick Boyle said, “Canadian government data demonstrate a high level of compliance with feed restrictions aimed at preventing the transmission of BSE via feed.”

Early to talk of resuming Japan beef trade

Early to talk of resuming Japan beef trade
TOKYO, Jan 24 (Reuters) – U.S. Agriculture Undersecretary J.B. Penn said on Tuesday it was premature to talk of a date for a resumption of U.S. beef imports by Japan. Penn was speaking at a news conference after talks with Japanese government officials on issues related to the discovery of banned spinal material in a U.S. beef cargo on Jan. 20, which prompted Tokyo to stop all imports of the meat from the United States.
Penn said the United States needed to continue its investigation into how the incident happened.
At a separate news conference, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official told reporters that Japan had urged the U.S. side to find the cause of the problem over the imported material and prevent it recurring. The suspension came just a month after Japan lifted a two-year ban imposed after the discovery of mad cow disease in the United States in December 2003, which had halted annual trade worth about $1.4 billion. Formerly the top U.S. export market, Japan agreed to resume imports last month but it imposed certain conditions, including the removal of all risk material that could cause the feared brain-wasting disease.

Mad-cow found in animal born after feed ban

Mad-cow found in animal born after feed ban
Canada expects no trade retaliation; infected bovine did not enter food supply
Tuesday, January 24, 2006 Posted at 5:49 AM EST

Another case of mad-cow disease has been detected in Canadian cattle – this time in an animal born 2 1/2 years after a ban on feed that was believed to be the source of the devastating neurological disease.
Although the long lag time between the ban and the cow’s birth is “notable,” officials with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said the discovery of a new case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy is neither surprising nor worrisome.

Oh Give Me a Home Where the Sane Cattle Roam

Oh Give Me a Home Where the Sane Cattle Roam
It looks like Canada is experiencing its 4th case of mad cow since 2003.Curiously, the cow in question was born 2.5 years after a ban on culprit feed was put into place.Canada is downplaying this episode:
“As little as one milligram of contaminated feed could cause BSE.”- Dr. Brian Evans, chief veterinarian at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

I guess it’s reassuring that there was as little as 1 mg. of banned animal tissue in all of Canada’s livestock feed, and that it only passed the choppers of this one cow, and since “the infected cow did not enter the food supply so there is no risk to consumers”, we can relax and go ahead and add a little ground beef to this Sunday’s chili.I understand health officials and beef industry workers don’t want to alarm the public or in any way disturb import, export, or retail sales of beef. But when they present such an incredulous story, they reveal an outright contempt for the intellect of consumers.Just go ahead and cry “Houston, we’ve got a problem.” You’d be surprised how far honesty and transparency will get you. Well … at least you’ll be able to sleep at night.By the way, the US reinstated imports of Canadian cattle in July, 2005. Canada is currently the number one supplier of cattle to the US:

Chart source: National Cattlemen’s Beef Association,

US Beef Imports Through August Continue at Record-setting Pace

Beef News – Ohio Beef

Beef News – Ohio Beef

The January 25, issue # 471, of the Ohio BEEF Cattle letter is now posted to the web at:

Statement by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns Regarding BSE Finding in Canada

January 23, 2006

“I appreciated the opportunity to speak with Canadian Agriculture Minister Andy Mitchell today, who apprised me of the new BSE detection in Canada. I assured him that based on the information he supplied, I anticipate no change in the status of beef or live cattle imports to the U.S. from Canada under our established agreement. As I’ve said many times, our beef trade decisions follow internationally accepted guidelines that are based in science.

“We will continue to evaluate this situation as the investigation continues. I have directed our USDA team to work with Canada and its investigative team. Minister Mitchell has pledged his full cooperation.

“I am confident in the safety of beef and in the safeguards we and our approved beef trading partners have in place to protect our food supply. We will continue to adhere to international guidelines in our relationships with all trading partners, and my hope continues to be that we achieve a system of science-based global beef trade.”

R-CALF’s new leader wants to expand group

R-CALF’s new leader wants to expand group

BILLINGS, Mont. The new leader of R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America wants to change perceptions of the group.
Chuck Kiker is from mainstream cattle country — Texas. And as R-CALF’s new president, the cattle and rice producer wants to expand the size and appeal of the group, perhaps best known for its fight over cattle and beef trade with Canada.
If successful, Kiker says it could mean an eventual move from R-CALF’s home base in Billings, Montana, to a larger city such as Dallas or Denver.
He says everybody defined R-CALF as a radical group from the North, and now that’s being redefined.
Kiker succeeds Montana rancher Leo McDonnell as president. He says the South is an area of interest for recruitment and R-CALF has hired help to sign up more members there.

Possible mad cow case found

Possible mad cow case found

Monday, January 23, 2006

OTTAWA (CP) — Federal agriculture inspectors are looking into the possibility of another case of mad cow disease, a spokesperson for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Sunday.
“We have an ongoing testing program for BSE and that means from time to time we undertake confirmatory tests when we come up with a suspicious sample,” said Mark Van Dusen.
“We are undergoing such testing on a suspicious sample.”
Van Dusen said the animal must go to a Winnipeg lab for final tests. Inspectors should know within 48 hours if they have another case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy on their hands.
He said there are no indications that any part of the animal entered the human-food or animal-feed systems.
Canada’s beef and dairy cattle breeding industry remains shut out of American markets since BSE was discovered in an Alberta cow in May 2003.
The Americans reopened their border to young cattle last July after the two-year ban brought on by fear of mad cow disease.
When that happened, many people believed the crisis, which has cost Canada’s cattle industry more than $7 billion, was finally over.
But Canada has a surplus of about 900,000 older-cull cattle that can’t be shipped south because of lingering concerns they may harbour a risk of BSE.
Van Dusen couldn’t confirm the age of the animal currently being tested but said it is definitely older than 30 months. Younger cattle are believed to have a lower risk of developing BSE.
He said he is aware of rumours the animal is from Alberta.
Canadian beef recently returned to some supermarket shelves in Tokyo following the lifting of a two-year ban on imports. Japanese officials agreed to allow beef from North America back into the marketplace — provided it came from animals under 21 months.
Entry into Japan is considered key to the long-term recovery plan of Canada’s battered beef industry.
Cattle officials have pinned their hopes on a growing appetite from Pacific Rim countries to help reduce the reliance on the U.S. market, which gobbles up the vast majority of this country’s beef exports.
© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2006

Canada beef industry doesn’t see fresh U.S. ban

Canada beef industry doesn’t see fresh U.S. ban

Mon Jan 23, 2006 12:31 PM EST

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) – The discovery in Canada of a new case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), known as mad cow disease, is unlikely to spur fresh trade restrictions by the United States, the country’s biggest export market, an industry official said on Monday.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said a six-year-old cow from an Alberta dairy farm tested positive for the brain-wasting affliction, making it the fourth reported home-grown case in the country. The animal’s remains did not enter the human food chain or the cattle feed system, the agency said.
Recent U.S. Department of Agriculture rules recognize the potential for the odd instance of the disease in Canada and the United States, said Dennis Laycraft, executive vice president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.
“It’s not unexpected that we’re going to see a few more isolated cases. It’s obviously unwelcome, but pretty well around the world there have been what’s referred to as ‘BARB’ cattle. Those are born after ruminant ban,” Laycraft said.
CFIA chief veterinarian Brian Evans has said there would be no scientific basis for barring shipments of Canadian beef from animals under 30 months of age.
In 1997, Canada had banned the use of protein from ruminant animals — such as cows, deer, goats, sheep and elk — in cattle feed following Britain’s BSE outbreak. Scientists believe this would help stop the spread of the disease.
However, not all the old feed was disposed of, Laycraft said.
“Although it’s too early to know precisely, the fact it is contained — it was in the herd in which it was born — is going to greatly facilitate the investigation,” Laycraft said.
The Canadian industry lost an estimated C$7 billion ($6 billion) from the discovery of the first BSE case in May 2003, which triggered international trade bans. The United States resumed the import of young animals in 2005.
($1=$1.15 Canadian)