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Congress Moves to Block Imports of Canadian Cattle

A bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives introduced resolutions last week that would prevent adoption of the USDA's BSE Minimal Risk Rule.

Congress is not in session this week for the Columbus Day recess, but before leaving Washington last week, resolutions of disapproval were introduced in both houses. The resolutions would essentially reverse the BSE Minimal Risk Rule that USDA announced last month. It would allow cattle of any age from Canada to be imported into the U.S.

R-CalfUSA was opposed to the rule and when it was announced promised action to prevent it from going into effect on Nov. 19.  R-Calf CEO Bill Bullard says the group is pleased that Congress has taken action.

"Congress has clearly recognized that the USDA is being overzealous in its attempts to facilitate more imports into this country from a country that has an ongoing disease problem with a disease that is incurable and always fatal," Bullard says.

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., introduced the resolution in the Senate and Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., put it forward in the House.

"The effectiveness of Canada's BSE mitigation measures to prevent the continued spread of BSE is, at best, uncertain and unverified as five of the seven cases of BSE discovered in Canada since the beginning of last year were born after March 1, 1999," Dorgan says.

Dorgan also cited the fact that mixing of U.S. and Canadian cattle could limit export potential by undermining trading partners' confidence, causing further damage to the U.S. beef industry.

Both resolutions have a number of bipartisan co-sponsors, although R-Calf plans to work at securing additional co-sponsors.

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