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U.S. seeks to lift ban on cattle

January 05, 2007|From Reuters

The U.S. government on Thursday proposed allowing imports of Canadian cattle and meat products from animals born on or after March 1, 1999, increasing shipments that are currently blocked out of concern for mad cow disease.

"We previously recognized Canada's comprehensive set of safeguards, and we have now completed a risk assessment confirming that additional animals and products can be safely traded," Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said.

Currently, Canadian ranchers can send cattle under 30 months of age to the United States for slaughter, and imports of beef from younger cattle are allowed.

Canada's government said it was still reviewing details of the proposal by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and awaiting publication of the rules next week. "In general this is a positive first step," Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl said.

The USDA in July halted work on a proposal that would have allowed for imports of cattle over 30 months of age after a 50-month-old dairy cow in Alberta was found with the fatal disease. The animal was born five years after Canada's 1997 ban on using cattle parts in cattle feed.

Canada has reported eight cases of mad cow disease in its domestic herd since 2003. The first U.S. case of mad cow disease, detected in Washington state in 2003, also came from an animal born in Alberta.

USDA Chief Veterinarian John Clifford said Thursday that Canada's mad cow prevalence was 6.8 infected cattle per 10 million adult cattle.

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