The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has announced proposed regulations to remove import restrictions from a range of currently prohibited U.S. commodities. These restrictions were introduced following the detection of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Washington State on December 23, 2003.

Based on the guidelines of the World Organization for Animal Health, the CFIA plans to permit the importation of live cattle born in 1998 or later, beef from animals of any age from which specified risk material has been removed and various other commodities. Products that may pose a higher risk, such as certain animal feeds, will remain prohibited.

The proposed regulations will further align Canada's BSE-specific policy for imports from the United States with science-based international guidelines for safe trade, which are designed to protect public and animal health.

With respect to bluetongue and anaplasmosis, the proposed regulations will allow for year-round access for U.S. feeder cattle destined for slaughter into Canadian feedlots, while maintaining the highest level of animal health protection. Additionally, work to expand the scope for further change relative to breeding cattle will follow the publication this year of a recently completed study conducted in Alberta.

"Our response to BSE continues to be based on science, and science clearly demonstrates that safe trade can and should continue with appropriate safeguards in place," said Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Andy Mitchell. "The consistent public and animal health measures that the United States and Canada have adopted will allow us to move toward the full reintegration of our markets."

A 30-day comment period ending on March 1, 2005, is being provided to allow interested parties the opportunity to provide comments. In the interim, current import restrictions will remain in effect.

The CFIA is currently developing a broader BSE-related import policy that will apply to any country that has reported the disease. As with the currently proposed regulations, this new policy will reflect the Government's ongoing commitment to follow recognized science and the most current understanding of BSE. The CFIA is confident that moving Canada's import policy toward international guidelines will encourage other countries to adopt similar, more appropriate approaches.

Source: Government Release