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USDA says Canadian mad cow case won't impact trade

09 February 2007

US - The day after Canada detected its ninth case of mad cow disease, the United States on Thursday said beef trade with its northern neighbor would remain unaffected and promised to press ahead with a draft rule to allow older Canadian cattle into the country.

"Based on what is known at this time, I would not expect this Canadian detection to impact our trade with Canada," U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said in a statement. Tests released on Wednesday confirmed mad cow disease in a mature bull in Alberta. No meat from the animal entered the food chain.

Canada has reported nine cases of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), in its domestic herd since May 2003. All the animals are believed to have contracted the disease from contaminated feed, a primary way mad cow can spread.

Johanns said USDA would send an official to Canada to help with the investigation. Canada's latest mad cow case did not appear to affect U.S. markets, traders said. February live cattle was up 0.350 cent at 93.975 cents per lb and April was off 0.175 at 95.550 at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Still, some analysts said the latest case could prompt USDA to slow plans to increase the allowable age of cattle imported from Canada. "If there is anything that it could affect, it could be that," said Don Roose, analyst with U.S. Commodities Inc.

Last month, USDA proposed allowing imports of Canadian cattle born on or after March 1, 1999, and meat from older animals, now blocked out of concerns over mad cow disease. The rule is open for public comment until March 12, 2007.

The department withdrew a similar regulation last summer after Canada reported mad cow disease in a 50-month-old dairy cow in Alberta, born well after Canada's 1997 ban on using cattle parts in cattle feed.

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Source: Reuters


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