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Brief filed to keep Canadian border open to U.S. cattle and beef; Mexico lifts ban on U.S. and Canadian beef.

The American Meat Institute (AMI) and four other organizations have filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in support of USDA's rule allowing cattle and beef imports from Canada. The brief urges the continuation of cattle and beef trade with Canada, noting that none of R-CALF's dire predictions about reopening the border have come true. The National Meat Association, North American Meat Processors, Southwest Meat Association and the Eastern Meat Packers Association joined AMI in the effort, and said in the statement that the rule covering trade with Canada is working well, and that the arguments that restoration of beef trade with Canada would "undercut consumer confidence in U.S. beef and that the influx of Canadian cattle would adversely affect domestic cattle prices are not borne out by USDA economic data."

The groups also noted that warnings by groups like R-CALF that restoring trade with Canada would hamper U.S. export efforts have proven false, pointing out countries like Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Chile, Egypt, St. Lucia, Philippines, Cuba and Taiwan have reopened their markets to U.S. beef. "Once again, a fringe group is attempting to slam shut the border with our largest trading partner by using alarmist rhetoric about food safety and consumer confidence when they know that Canadian beef is every bit as safe as the beef raised in this country," said J. Patrick Boyle, president and CEO of the American Meat Institute. "While R-CALF puts on its Chicken Little outfit and tries to convince consumers that the sky is falling, Americans and Canadians continue to enjoy and consume the best and safest beef in the world," he said.

A ban on Canadian and U.S. beef on the bone has been lifted by Mexico as a result of a softening towards bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) found in those two countries. Mexico said imports of beef on the bone from its northern neighbors would have to meet minimum requirements and were limited to beef from cattle younger than 30 months. Mexico's Agriculture Ministry said Canada and the United States had met international standards to avoid the spread of the brain wasting disease.

Mexico still forbids imports of U.S. live cattle, brains and other offal due to the BSE scare, which began in December 2003. Mexico was the world's second biggest importer of U.S. beef and cattle before the crisis broke, buying up to $1billion of U.S. beef annually.
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Publication:Food & Drink Weekly
Date:Feb 6, 2006
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