Canadian livestock is now beginning to cross the United States border for feeding and slaughter.

“It is with great pleasure that I advise today is the first day since May 2003 that live cattle shipments are crossing the border from Canada into the United States,” said Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Andy Mitchell. “This is the culmination of a tremendous amount of work on the part of Canadian producers, the Canadian livestock industry, provincial and territorial governments, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Government of Canada. I thank them for their strong collaboration and tenacity in resuming trade in live animals and a broader range of meat products with our largest trading partner.”

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is issuing export certificates for eligible shipments of livestock to the U.S. subsequent to the recent court ruling that allows the USDA to implement a new trade rule re-opening the border. The U.S. border was closed to a wide range of livestock and related products since the detection of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Canada on May 20, 2003.

“It is important to note that on July 27, 2005, Judge Cebull will hear arguments in the Montana court case, and could impose a permanent injunction. We must continue our efforts to emphasize that the strength of Canada’s regulatory regime to protect human and animal health must prevail and the resumption of science-based trade should continue.

Canada continues to support the USDA as they prepare to defend the minimal risk rule on July 27. The Government of Canada, provincial and territorial governments and industry are preparing for any eventuality of the court ruling,” said Minister Mitchell.

The border is now open to cattle and bison less than 30 months of age and goats and sheep less than 12 months for immediate slaughter and feeding, as well as a broader range of meat products. The U.S. rule also removes all BSE-related import restrictions for elk, deer, llamas and alpacas. While details are not yet available on when each species will begin to cross the border, the CFIA is working with industry sectors to provide the necessary information to allow trade to resume.

The resumption of live animal trade requires Canadian exporters to have shipments certified by a CFIA-accredited veterinarian and endorsed by the CFIA. Certification includes an animal health inspection and specific identification requirements, and as well shipments need to bear specific Government of Canada seals.

Under the U.S. rule, Canadian slaughter and processing facilities that also process cattle over thirty months of age will be able to retain their export eligibility as long as specific segregation procedures are in place. This may increase Canada's capacity to slaughter older animals since establishments wishing to export to the U.S. were previously not allowed to handle animals over thirty months or related products.

The CFIA is working to expedite the movement of livestock shipments by coordinating measures with the USDA and providing exporters and accredited veterinarians with clear, concise information on the U.S. rule.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency