Cattle producers firm on keeping border closed - CPoW group calls for crucial regulations to be met before cattle trade resumes
SOAP LAKE, WA—A proactive cattlemen’s group in Washington State is calling for the Canadian government to meet a number of important regulations to safeguard animal health and food safety before the United States resumes live cattle trade across the US/Canadian border.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed opening the border this March, much to the chagrin of US ranchers who feel Canada still poses health risks for both people and animals.
The Cattle Producers of Washington (CPoW) are calling for at least two ruminant feed ban requirements to be met before opening the border to cattle trade should be considered.
Ruminant feed, or feed that contains animal parts, has been banned in the United States since 1989. It was prohibited after BSE cases in Europe were linked to causing the brain-wasting disease in animals.
“We want Canada to be able to claim a BSE Provincially free status as determined by the World Health Organization by having a ruminant feed ban in place for the required eight years,” said CPoW President Lee Engelhardt. “Since Canada put their feed ban in place in 1997, they have not yet met that time requirement. Also, because Canada recently revealed two new BSE cases, they cannot be provincially free of BSE, as determined by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).”
Engelhardt noted that recent articles in the Vancouver Sun showed that 59 percent of the feed samples tested in Canada in 2004 had animal materials of unknown origin in the feed. “We want to be sure that Canada is taking meaningful steps to preventing BSE in their country by eliminating the use of ruminant feed,” he said.
CPoW is also calling for mandatory Country of Origin labeling (COOL) for beef products in the United States before Canadian beef imports resume. Although mandatory COOL was passed in the 2002 Farm Bill, it has yet to be implemented as a system that would label beef products sold in America.
Engelhardt said in order to protect food safety in America, CPoW wants to see Country of Origin labeling in place that would inform consumers just where their beef products are coming from.
“In the United States we grow the safest and best quality beef in the world. The consumer should be able to differentiate between our product and imported products in the supermarket,” Engelhardt explained. “It is the consumers right to know just what they are eating.”
Engelhardt emphasized that although BSE has been touted as a “North American” problem, the U.S. is currently BSE free and should be kept that way through stringent regulations.
“The bottom line is that we support total closure of the border to live cattle, boxed and hanging beef and any feed from Canada until the BSE issues are resolved,” he said. “The U.S. is the leader in creating a wholesome, safe food supply and we need to hold our importers to the same standards we have created for ourselves.”
For more information about CPoW, visit www.cattleproducersofwa.org or contact Jamie Henneman at 509-486-2696.
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only. [Ref. http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml]