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News Update
July 18, 2005

Johanns Announces Next Steps for Importing Cattle

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns last Friday outlined steps necessary to reopen the U.S. border to Canadian cattle less than 30 months of age and other ruminants.

“We will move as expeditiously as possible to begin importing Canadian cattle, but we will do so very carefully to ensure the minimal-risk rule criteria are clearly met,” Johanns said, speaking from Madagascar while on a trade mission. “We are coordinating very closely with other U.S. and Canadian government agencies to make certain the correct procedures are in place to properly inspect shipments and verify that our criteria are met.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will issue Standard Operating Procedures to their field offices, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection offices.

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will issue an updated list of approved products that will be allowed across the border. The agency will also issue instructions to FSIS personnel who will inspect cattle received for immediate harvest.

The process for importing shipments of live cattle and other ruminants, once the preparatory steps are complete, will begin in Canada. The CFIA will issue health certificates to verify the age and identification (ID) of the animal and ensure it meets minimal-risk rule criteria. Once verified, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will review the documentation and confirm the shipments are appropriate for entry into the United States. The animals will then be released to APHIS veterinarians, who will inspect the cattle at border inspection facilities and validate the Canadian certification. Additionally, FSIS inspection personnel will verify U.S. requirements are met at the point of harvest.

— Information provided by USDA.

TB Detected in Minnesota

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health announced July 13 that it had detected bovine tuberculosis (TB) in Roseau County.

According to a news release issued by the agency, the initial case of TB was detected when a USDA veterinarian noticed suspicious lesions on a five-year-old cow during routine harvesting surveillance. Samples sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, confirmed that the animal was infected with bovine TB. The herd of origin was identified, quarantined and tested for the disease. Further testing by at the Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory showed that most of the suspect animals showed signs of lesions consistent with TB. According to the release, the USDA was working toward depopulating the infected herd. For more information visit www.bah.state.mn.us.

Drought Relief Available to Western States

Interior Secretary Gale Norton and Secretary Johanns announced last week activation of Interagency Drought Action Teams to coordinate drought relief to communities in western states that face the greatest potential water shortages this summer.

According to a USDA release, teams of USDA and Department of the Interior (DOI) specialists based in affected areas are working in conjunction with state governments to address drought conditions in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and other states as needs are identified.

“In our ongoing efforts to help farmers, ranchers and rural communities impacted by drought, we are working with states and local communities to take action where the greatest needs exist,” Johanns said. “By focusing on this issue early, we will be able to better target our drought-relief assistance to farmers and ranchers in these states in the critical months ahead.”

The Drought Action Team initiative stems from a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2003 as part of Interior's Water 2025: Preventing Crises and Conflict in the West Program. Interior and Agriculture established an Interagency Drought Coordination Task Force, co-chaired by the deputy secretary of each department, to identify areas with severe water supply problems that need immediate focused assistance and use the teams to mobilize appropriate federal resources to help communities and producers in need.

Information about USDA relief to farmers, ranchers and local communities is online at http://disaster.usda.gov. Information about the Drought Action Teams, Memorandum of Understanding and Interior’s Water 2025 proposal are online at www.doi.gov/water2025.

— Information provided by USDA.

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