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News Update
Oct. 26, 2005

PM Says Japan in No Hurry to Lift Ban

Despite threats of impending tariffs from U.S. legislators, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said the country is in no hurry to lift its two-year ban on U.S. beef, according to The Associated Press.

Koizumi spoke at a parliamentary debate, fielding concerns from opposing party members that Japan’s decision would be hastened due to a scheduled visit from President Bush in mid-November. Although Koizumi called for further discussion on the matter, he said, “It doesn’t have to be resolved by then. That is a misperception.”

A poll taken by national newspaper The Asahi Shimbun shows 67% of Japanese respondents said Japan should not lift its ban on U.S. beef. Seventy-four percent of women and 59% of men surveyed opposed the resumption of beef imports, and 67% said they wouldn’t eat U.S. beef if imports were resumed.

USDA Responds to Threats of Avian Influenza

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner today outlined U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) efforts to protect the United States against highly transmissible forms of avian influenza, a disease that commonly affects birds and has been transmitted to humans in Asia.

“Attacking the disease at its source overseas is a main focus for USDA,” Conner said. “We also have strict importation restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus in our country and an elaborate surveillance system in place to monitor our bird populations.”

Worldwide, there are many strains of the avian flu virus, which can cause varying degrees of illness in poultry. Avian flu viruses can infect chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, ducks, geese and guinea fowl, as well as a wide variety of other birds. Migratory waterfowl are also known to carry the less infectious strains of the viruses.

To encourage producers to report sick birds, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) conducts an outreach campaign called “Biosecurity for the Birds.” It provides poultry producers with the latest information on biosecurity to prevent the spread of this disease on the farm. Additional surveillance efforts specifically target live bird markets. USDA works closely with the industry to randomly test commercial flocks as well as testing birds that show signs of illness. USDA scientists have also been testing wild migratory birds since 1998 in the Alaska flyway.

APHIS also maintains trade restrictions on the importation of pet birds, poultry and poultry products from certain avian flu-affected countries. Additionally, all birds, including pets, brought into the United States from countries experiencing the avian flu or other diseases of concern are quarantined and tested at an APHIS Animal Import Center for 30 days.

USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) developed a rapid diagnostic test for avian influenza that diagnoses the disease within three hours, and APHIS maintains an avian flu vaccine supply for poultry. The agency has also formed a national network of personnel to assist with surveillance and response in the event of an outbreak of the avian flu or other foreign animal disease.

Additional information about USDA avian influenza efforts can be found at www.usda.gov/birdflu or at www.nwhc.usgs.gov/research/avian_influenza/avian_influenza.html.

Submit Performance Records by Nov. 11

The deadline for submitting performance data for inclusion in the American Angus Association’s Spring 2006 National Cattle Evaluation (NCE) is Friday, Nov. 11. It’s important to both individual herds and to the breed to collect and submit performance records promptly. If you have questions, contact the Performance Programs Department at (816) 383-5100.

— compiled by Crystal Albers, Angus Productions Inc.

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