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Canadian cattle enter U.S. for first time in 26 months
Toronto Globe and Mail


July 19, 2005

Live Canadian cattle are crossing the U.S. border for the first time in 26 months, but ranchers are concerned that the beef industry's recovery could be short-lived.

"We as producers here in Canada are still cautiously optimistic that this is going to proceed, that trade will continue through and certainly hope that we get a favorable ruling from that court in Montana," said Stan Eby, president of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, which represents 90,000 beef producers.

Last week, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle overturned a temporary injunction to prohibit Canadian cattle over concerns of mad-cow disease. However, a lower court in Montana will consider an injunction to ban live cattle permanently starting July 27.

"We'll be on both sides of the border watching to make sure the process works," Canadian Agriculture Minister Andy Mitchell said. "The fact that actual cattle are moving across the border is good news."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is optimistic that it has a strong case for keeping the border open and will get a favorable ruling in the Montana court, according to spokeswoman Amy Spillman.

Early Monday, Schaus Land and Cattle Co. of Elmwood, Ontario, shipped 35 cattle across the border through Lewiston, N.Y., to Cargill Meat Solutions in Wyalusing, Pa.

Ken Schaus said he got a call from the Cattlemen's Association on Friday to see if his company was ready to ship the live cattle. Within 72 hours, they were on the move.

"It's a beautiful load of cattle," said Celie Myers, technical services superintendent with Cargill. "We're happy that we've cleared the political hurdles and that we can resume trade."

While she has always been confident about Canadian beef, she said she's unsure whether there will be a rush to buy. Myers said central Canadian cattle are still more expensive than their northeastern U.S. counterparts.

Schaus said the reopened border should stabilize the industry and allow ranchers to concentrate on production without fears of significant price swings.

Eby said Canadian consumers shouldn't see any price volatility in the short term on beef prices.

The border is now open to cattle and bison younger than 30 months and goats and sheep younger than 12 months for immediate slaughter and feeding. Restrictions on elk and deer have been lifted as well.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency will issue certificates for livestock eligible for export to the United States.

The border had been closed since the discovery of a single case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in an Alberta cow on May 20, 2003.


Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service,

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