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BILLINGS, Mont. – A new case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or mad cow disease) in the Netherlands has prompted R-CALF USA to once again request the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to withdraw its OTM (over-30-months) Rule that allows all Canadian cattle born on or after March 1, 1999, to be imported into the United States.
“Canada does not test older cows at slaughter, despite having detected multiple cases of BSE – 18 since 2003 – in its native herd,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. “The U.S. also does not test imported Canadian cows for BSE at slaughter, even though Canada has detected 11 BSE-infected cattle in animals that met the age requirement to be exported to the United States, with their last case detected as recently as February of this year.”
The Netherlands tests all cows for BSE at slaughter, according to a Reuters article, and all cows are held aside for the results before the meat enters the food supply.
“Thus, both the U.S. and Canada provide less protection to consumers against a known source of BSE than do countries in Europe, and the probability is high that the U.S. is allowing beef from BSE-infected Canadian cattle into the human food chain here,” Bullard pointed out. “The United States’ overly relaxed import restrictions for older cows and bulls imported from Canada, as well as beef from older cows and bulls that are slaughtered in Canada and then sent to the U.S., helps to explain why our export customers – Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore – continue to impose strict export restrictions on U.S. beef.
“It is our hope that USDA will immediately take steps to restore the United States’ BSE protections that were in existence prior to the implementation of the OTM Rule, and this can be accomplished by the immediate reversal of the OTM Rule,” he concluded. “Withdrawal of the OTM Rule – in addition to providing adequate protections for U.S. consumers – likely would alleviate the significant trade restrictions the U.S. now has faced for seven years because the U.S. continues to provide inadequate protections for U.S. consumers and U.S. livestock with its overly relaxed import restrictions.”