U.S. Could Ease Canadian Beef Ban Soon

The U.S. and Canadian governments may begin talks to partially lift a U.S. ban on Canadian beef in about a week if no new cases of mad cow disease are found in Canada, a Canadian official told Reuters News Service on Wednesday.

A U.S. industry source, who asked not to be identified, said the USDA is looking at several options for easing the ban on Canada. "Certainly a limited resumption of importation of, let's say, young feeder cattle or whole muscle meat...are definitely under discussion at USDA," the source said.

USDA Secretary Ann Veneman, when asked by reporters about changes to the ban, said, "It is really too early to talk about that. At this point we've got to let this investigation progress."

The U.S. banned imports of all beef and cattle from Canada on May 20 after Canada confirmed that one cow from a herd in Alberta had tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Canada's government will slaughter and test more than 700 more cattle from seven quarantined farms in western Canada, as it continues to investigate the single BSE case.

The expanded diagnostic testing program for BSE will proceed, even in the wake of negative test results from more than 80 calves investigators traced from the diseased cow's last herd. One of the calves was the sick cow's offspring, government officials said.

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.