After years of efforts by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and with support from the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, producer-members are pleased with Canada's major step forward in achieving equivalency on animal health issues. Bob Speller, Canada's Minister of Agriculture, has declared that Canada will allow year-round importation of U.S. feeder cattle into Canada from states in the U.S. that are low or medium risk for bluetongue or anaplasmosis.
"This is a significant development," says Kansas cattle producer and NCBA President Jan Lyons. "It's an important step forward in ensuring international trade is based on upon science and fairness. Canada has made this significant policy shift in recognition of the science and over 10 years of dialog between U.S. and Canadian cattle producers who have supported this effort."
Currently, there are 39 states that are in these categories. Cattle from the 11 higher-risk states may be allowed into Canada if they have resided in a low or medium risk state for a minimum of 60 days prior to shipment to Canada. Risk determination is conducted by the USDA.
NCBA will continue to work to expedite the process Canadian Ag Ministry and USDA that would allow for additional year round access for breeding cattle. This step will require Canada to recognize the states and regions of the U.S. that have a health status equivalent to Canada. Canadians have assured their commitment to resolving these equivalency issues. The NCBA expects this to be resolved in the near future.
"We need to continue our discussions to ensure that breeding cattle can move freely to Canada from any state or region with an equivalent animal health status," says Lyons. "NCBA members are committed to accomplishing this next step as quickly as possible."
The NCBA continues to make full harmonization with Canada a top priority and will continue to work with USDA Secretary Ann Veneman and the Canadian Agriculture Minister to ensure an expedited harmonization process.
"Our ability to work with Canada to harmonize our regulations based upon scientific facts and a commitment to fair trade gives us renewed hope that we can also harmonize international regulations relating to BSE," states NCBA Chief Executive Officer Terry Stokes. "It is imperative we use a science-based approach to determine animal health standards. There is no science, today, that supported the requirements that Canada had imposed upon the U.S. cattle industry."