Waco(January 18, 2005) - Texas Farmers Union said the latest discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Canada is further proof that the U.S. ban on Canadian live cattle should continue.
Longtime livestock producer and TFU President Wes Sims said, “State cattle producers could bear the economic burden if the border is open to Canadian cattle at this time.”
“There are 14 million head of cattle in Texas,” Sims said, “If the border is opened to Canadian cattle, you can bet there will be a dramatic drop in the markets, and it could be years before it would rise again. I can’t imagine any Texas cattle producer who would be willing to take the risk of selling their cattle cheaper.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a final rule January 4, 2005 that would include Canada as a “minimal-risk” region for BSE and would allow imports of live Canadian cattle. Sims said he does not consider the potential risks to the U.S. cattle markets as “minimal,” and that USDA should back away from its current rule.
“It’s all about perception,” Sims said. “It is unwise to rush to reopen the border while Canada continues to uncover BSE-positive animals. While USDA, the Canadian government and a few other farm groups are standing behind ‘sound science’ a reason to reopen the border, it doesn’t matter much if our domestic and foreign consumers are not convinced.”
The United States lost more than $2 billion in 2004 due to lost export markets after a single BSE positive cow with Canadian origin was found in Washington state. Sims said that, until trade is reestablished with America’s top international customers, it does not make sense to restore beef trade with Canada.
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