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U.S. to Reopen Border for Import of Some Canadian Cattle

After Mad Cow Scare, Northern Neighbor Is Now Considered 'Minimal-Risk Region' for the Disease

Associated Press
Thursday, December 30, 2004; Page A05

More than 19 months after a mad cow scare closed U.S. borders to Canadian cattle, the United States said yesterday it will allow limited imports beginning in March.

The new policy will permit imports of cattle younger than 30 months and certain other animals and products from Canada, which the Agriculture Department said has effective measures to prevent and detect bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease.

_____Mad Cow Disease_____
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The department said the ruling, which will take effect March 7, came after determining Canada is a "minimal-risk region," the first country recognized as such.

"After conducting an extensive review, we are confident that imports of certain commodities from regions of minimal risk can occur with virtually no risk to human or animal health," Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman said in a statement.

The imported cattle will be subject to certain restrictions, including ensuring they are slaughtered by the age of 30 months, they are transported in sealed containers to a feedlot or slaughterhouse, and they are not allowed to move to more than one U.S. feedlot.

Among other Canadian imports to be allowed in limited measures are sheep and goats, as well as meat and other products from those animals.

Live cattle shipments from Canada were banned in May 2003 after a case of mad cow disease was discovered in Alberta. A second case in December 2003 in Washington state was discovered in a Canadian-born cow.

The Agriculture Department first proposed establishing minimal-risk regions in November 2003, but the subsequent mad cow scare prompted the department to reevaluate the proposals.

One U.S. cattle group, R-CALF USA, which stands for Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America, however, has threatened to take further legal action to stop the expanded trade.

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