Canada Wants U.S. To End Beef Ban

This week Canada called on the United States to end its ban on Canadian beef and cattle imports, arguing there was no scientific justification for maintaining the three-week-old prohibition after nearly 2,000 tests for mad cow disease turned out negative.

U.S. officials welcomed the findings of an international team that backed Canada's handling of its mad cow disease case (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), but said it was too early to say when a ban on Canadian beef would be lifted.

“Certainly we are encouraged by (the team's) comments on the thorough and comprehensive investigation that the Canadian officials have carried out, but, as I said before, we will wait until all of the relevant information from the investigation is presented before we would officially consider lifting any of the restrictions,” U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service official Ron Dehaven told reporters.

The panel of animal disease experts from the Office International des Epizooties' gave its stamp of approval to Canada's sweeping investigation after spending the weekend scrutinizing it, but the team's final report may be two weeks away, Reuters News Service reported.

The panel's Swiss leader, Ulrich Kihm, said he believed Canada's beef was safe for export, but predicted there will be other North American cases of the disease.

Canadian investigators say the "active" investigation of the single case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in a Canadian cow is drawing to a close.

However, investigators still don't know how the single black angus cow, slaughtered Jan. 31 and diagnosed with BSE on May 20, contracted the disease.

Investigators have slaughtered 2,700 cattle, including about 1,700 cattle from 18 quarantined farms and another 1,000 cattle from 25 farms that weren't quarantined. All the tests have come back negative.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley told reporters that the USDA plans to ease its ban on Canadian beef and cattle to allow imports of muscle cuts and live cattle younger than 30 months, but said the timing of the action is not yet known.

Speculation in the cattle market is that the ban won't be eased until July.

Editors note: Richard Brock, The Corn and Soybean Digest's Marketing Editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.

To see more market perspectives, visit Brock's Web site at www.brockreport.com.