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Industry Update

Cattle USDA Issues Proposed Rule to Allow Live Animal Imports From Canada
Harvard Risk Reassessment
R-CALF USA says Science Does Not Support Canadian Border Re-Opening
Insurance Workshops To Focus On New Livestock Policies

USDA Issues Proposed Rule to Allow Live Animal Imports From Canada
The United States Department of Agriculture on Friday issued a proposed rule to amend its bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) regulations to establish a new category of regions that recognizes those that present a minimal risk of introducing BSE into the United States via the importation of certain low-risk live ruminants and ruminant products.

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is seeking public comment on the proposal to allow the importation of certain live ruminants and ruminant products and byproducts from minimal risk regions under specified conditions. This proposed rule would place Canada on a list of countries considered a minimal risk for BSE, thus making Canada eligible to export certain live ruminant and ruminant products.

"The United States has a long history of having safeguards in place to prevent the introduction of BSE," said Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman. "The continued protection of the U.S. food supply is our top priority. This proposal reflects a thorough review of the scientific evidence, which shows the risk to public health to be extremely low."

The proposed minimal risk region would include regions in which an animal has been diagnosed with BSE but in which specific preventive measures have been in place for an appropriate period of time that reduce the risk of BSE being introduced to the United States. Based on a comprehensive risk analysis and review, USDA believes that the surveillance, prevention and control measures implemented by Canada are sufficient to be included in the minimal risk category.

The proposed rule has a 60-day comment period. Once this period closes, USDA will consider the comments as it makes any final decisions on the importation of certain live ruminants and ruminant products from Canada and other minimal risk regions for BSE.

Under this proposal, ruminant and ruminant products eligible for entry into the United States from a BSE minimal risk region would include: 1) bovine animals less than 30 months of age for immediate slaughter; 2) bovine animals for feeding to be moved to a designated feedlot and then to slaughter at less than 30 months of age; 3) sheep and goats less than 12 months of age for immediate slaughter; 4) sheep and goats for feeding to be moved to a designated feedlot and then to slaughter at less than 12 months of age; 5) cervids for immediate slaughter; 6) fresh (chilled or frozen) meat from bovines less than 30 months of age; 7) fresh (chilled or frozen) whole or half carcasses of bovines less than 30 months of age; 8) fresh (chilled or frozen) bovine liver; 9) fresh (chilled or frozen) bovine tongues; 10) fresh (chilled or frozen) meat of sheep or goats less than 12 months of age; 11) fresh (chilled or frozen) carcasses of sheep or goats less than 12 months of age; 12) hunter-harvested wild ruminant products; 13) fresh (chilled or frozen) meat of cervids either farm-raised or harvested on a game farm or similar facility; 14) fresh (chilled or frozen) meat from wild- harvested caribou, musk ox, or other cervids; and 15) certain types of gelatin, tallow and offal. A full listing of the risk mitigation measures required to be eligible for entry into the United States can be found at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/.

The proposed rule is consistent with the approach taken by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) - the standard setting organization for animal health for 164 member nations. In recent correspondence, the Director General of the OIE acknowledged that there has been an "increase in unjustified restrictions in international trade, particularly as it relates to cattle and cattle products." The letter was in response to a request from Secretary Veneman, Agricultural Minister Lyle Vanclief, Canada, and Agriculture Secretary Javier Usabiaga, Mexico, to the OIE to provide more practical guidance regarding the resumption of trade with countries that have reported cases of BSE. The United States continues to work with the OIE to ensure that countries establish import policy decisions based on standards that are commensurate with the BSE risks identified for each situation.

To comment on the proposal
The notice of proposed rulemaking to permit entry of low-risk live animals from certain minimal risk regions is scheduled for publication in the Nov. 4 Federal Register. APHIS documents published in the Federal Register and related information, including the names of organizations and individuals who have commented on APHIS dockets, are available on the Internet at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/.

Consideration will be given to comments received on or before Jan. 5, 2004. Comments may be submitted by postal mail, commercial delivery or by e-mail. Send an original and three copies of postal or commercial delivery comments to Docket No. 03-080-1, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3C71, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, Md. 20737-1238. If you use e-mail, address your comments to regulations@aphis.usda.gov. Comments must be contained in the body of the message; do not send attached files. Please include your name and address in the message and use "Docket No. 03-080-1" on the subject line.

Comments received may be reviewed at USDA, Room 1141, South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C., between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. Persons wishing to review comments are requested to call ahead on (202) 690-2817 to facilitate entry into the comment reading room.

Harvard Risk Reassessment
USDA also released the findings of a second assessment conducted by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis (HCRA) that confirms the findings of the initial study released in 2001. The study found that even if infected animals or ruminant feed material entered the U.S. animal agriculture system from Canada, the risk of it spreading extensively within the U.S. herd was low, that any possible spread would now have been reversed by controls put in place in the late 1990's, and that eventually, the disease would be eliminated from the United States.

"This study shows that the measures taken in the United States over the years greatly reduce the chance of BSE spreading and help ensure that the disease will not become a major animal or public health problem in America," said Dr. George Gray, executive director of HCRA.

The risk reassessment was commissioned by USDA shortly after the discovery of a single case of BSE in Canada on May 20, 2003. The study evaluates the potential for BSE to spread if it were introduced from Canada prior to May 20, when USDA banned all ruminant and ruminant products from Canada because of the discovery of the single case of BSE. The reassessment specifically examined scenarios for the likely introduction of BSE from Canada into the United States.

A complete copy of the second Harvard Report can be obtained from USDA's official Web site at http://www.usda.gov.

R-CALF USA: Science Does Not Support Canadian Border Re-Opening
“The USDA is acting contrary to internationally accepted science in proposing to reopen the U.S./Canadian border to live Canadian cattle,” said Leo McDonnell, President of R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA). McDonnell’s statement was in response to the USDA’s issuance of proposed rules to allow Canada to export live cattle to the United States despite Canada’s May, 20, 2003, discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a native cow.

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) is the international, scientific body relied upon by World Trade Organization (WTO) member countries in determining a country’s risk status associated with livestock diseases. Based on currently accepted international science, the OIE establishes the criteria for determining a country’s risk status associated with BSE. “The USDA is attempting to classify Canada as a country posing a minimal risk for BSE in contradiction to the standards established in the OIE’s Terrestrial Animal Health Code,” said McDonnell.

“R-CALF USA does not understand why USDA is willing to subject the U.S. cattle industry to the unnecessary risk associated with importing live cattle from a country known to have BSE in a native animal, especially given the lack of any internationally accepted scientific evidence to support this level of risk exposure. We urge every U.S. cattle producer to send a letter to USDA explaining the need to safeguard the U.S. cattle industry from this unnecessary risk,” McDonnell concluded.

Insurance Workshops To Focus On New Livestock Policies
With new livestock insurance policies now offered in Kansas and some other states, livestock owners, lenders and insurance agents have unanswered questions.

To fill that need, Kansas State University along with the University of Nebraska and Colorado State University, will focus on Livestock Risk Protection (LRP) insurance policies at their 5th annual insurance workshops to be held in November. "The Changing World of Crop Insurance: Livestock Insurance, What's Next?" will be held Nov. 18 in Great Bend, Kan., Nov. 19 in Grand Island, Neb., and Nov. 20 in Brush, Colo.

"I know there have to be a lot of questions," said Art Barnaby, K- State professor of agricultural economics. "We have the absolute best person to answer them – the person who wrote it."

Peter Griffin, president of Applied Analytics Group, Inc. in Chicago, developed cattle insurance contracts and also contracts covering swine, which will be released in November.

"They are a hybrid type of insurance that don't follow traditional insurance deals," Barnaby said. "It is really a derivative. LRP has insurance principles but it also has the option for a pricing principle."

In addition to livestock insurance information, the workshop will provide crop insurance agents, farmers, ranchers and agricultural leaders with better risk management information.

Workshop topics will also include next season's drought scenarios, water rights and issues, satellite imagery used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Risk Management Agency, crop insurance changes from Washington, D.C., risk management education programs and an update of federal drought insurance and other public policies.

Interested persons can call about information at the respective sites: Nebraska, (402) 472-2039, Kansas, (785) 532-1506 or Colorado, (970) 491-6132. Hotel rooms can be reserved at each workshop location. More information is also available at the K-State Department of Agricultural Economics Web site at http://www.agmanager.info/crops/insurance/. Click on Educational Materials and Workshops.

The early registration (postmarked by Nov. 10) is $65. After that date, the fee is $90.

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