Last Friday, the National Milk Producers Federation submitted comments to USDA opposing the resumption of cattle exports from Canada for breeding or herd replacement purposes.

NMPF told USDA that it would be imprudent to allow live animal traffic to resume because of ongoing concerns about the effectiveness of Canada’s ban on feeding mammalian tissues to cows. This is the key firewall intended to prevent the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy. USDA is currently considering reopening the U.S border to animals born after March 1999 for any use, including as breeding stock.

In its comments, NMPF pointed out that six of the last seven Canadian cases of BSE were in cattle born after 1997. Four of the last six BSE cases were in animals born after March 1, 1999, which USDA pegs as the date of the Canadian cattle industry’s full compliance with the feed ban.

“We feel that there are a few more questions that need to be answered before we allow replacement animals in the United States,” says Jerry Kozak, NMPF president and chief executive officer. “The dairy and beef industry should protect itself from another case of BSE entering this country through our borders.”

NMPF also expressed concern that Canada’s implementation of the 1997 feed ban was not as effective as the government had originally thought. USDA estimates the prevalence of BSE in Canada at 6.8 animals per every 10 million adult cattle, which is more than seven times the BSE prevalence in the United States.

Kozak also says that USDA has not yet done an economic impact analysis on the potential financial losses to dairy farmers from the resumption of Canadian dairy heifer imports. Such action is “crucial to examining the overall changes to our market that will result from moving forward with a completely open border,” Kozak notes.

Source: NMPF