One of the main concerns Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns expressed in a recent hearing with the Senate Ag Committee was the fact that the rule allows boxed beef from animals older than 30 months of age, but not live cattle over 30 months of age.
In a meeting with Canadian Ag Minister Andy Mitchell, Johanns says with ongoing investigations into the recent finds of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Canada in animals over 30 months still not complete, "it is prudent to delay the effective date for allowing imports of meat from animals 30 months and over."
Johanns went on to say that "This action also addresses concerns over the portion of the minimal-risk rule that would reopen the Canadian border for beef from animals 30 months and over, while keeping it closed for imports of older live cattle for processing in the United States," he says. "Some have suggested that this part of the rule does not reflect the evidence that beef from animals 30 months and over processed in Canada has the same risk profile as beef from Canadian animals 30 months and over processed in the United States."
In the Senate hearing, Johanns and senators explained that the rule as written would allow older cattle boxed beef to be sent to the U.S. for a fraction of the cost.
Johanns also asked U.S. officials to move forward in consideration and development of a plan to allow imports of animals 30 months and older for slaughter as well as beef from over 30-month animals as the next step in resuming full trade with Canada.