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Mixed Reaction on Canadian Beef

Associated Press
Tuesday, January 4, 2005; Page A04

LUBBOCK, Tex., Jan. 3 -- Benny Montague has raised cattle in West Texas for 35 years and believes he knows what is best for the nation's beef industry.

With this weekend's confirmed case of mad cow disease in Canada, Montague and others in the nation's leading beef-producing state said the government is acting too hastily in lifting a ban on importing live cattle from the country. The ban -- which is to be lifted in March -- has been in place since the first confirmed case of the disease in Canada was found in May 2003.

The USDA will permit importation of live cattle from Canada despite a new case of mad cow disease. (Patrick Price-files -- Reuters)

_____Mad Cow Disease_____
Canada Confirms Second Mad Cow Case (Associated Press, Jan 2, 2005)
Canada Is Checking Another Animal for Mad Cow Disease (The Washington Post, Dec 31, 2004)
U.S. to Reopen Border for Import of Some Canadian Cattle (The Washington Post, Dec 30, 2004)
USDA Rules Out Mad Cow Disease in Animal (The Washington Post, Nov 24, 2004)
Japan to Accept U.S. Beef Again (The Washington Post, Oct 24, 2004)
Special Report

"We don't need any more mad cows over here," Montague said. "I think it's crazy, since they found one, to open it back up."

Not everyone agreed with Montague, however.

"The bottom line is that the beef supply is safe," said Jan Lyons, president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

She said the animal, an older dairy cow born in 1996, posed no health threat because of procedures in place to keep potentially infected cows out of the food chain.

The rules on beef imports stipulate that imported cows must be under 30 months of age.

Concerns about mad cow have been heightened since the May 2003 discovery in Canada. The United States closed the border with Canada after that case but has slowly been easing the restrictions, including last week's decision on live cattle under 30 months old.

The Bush administration said it would stand by the decision. But Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.) says he has written Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman saying she should immediately reverse that order.

This country's first confirmed mad cow case, in Washington state in December 2003, turned out to be a Canadian-born Holstein. It prompted a ban on U.S. beef by several countries including Japan, the largest importer.

Gene Harris, owner of a small, family-operated ranch in Killdeer, N.D., said the United States should import beef from countries that have taken adequate steps to ensure human and herd safety.

"In the short term, it will have some negative effects to the market, but in the long term, reestablishing trade will allow us to establish a framework to trade with Canada and other minimal-risk countries," he said.

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