WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns and Canadian Minister of Agriculture Chuck Strahl, yesterday issued the following statement after participating in a meeting in Washington.

"We are pleased to have had this latest opportunity to meet to discuss important issues affecting the agricultural sectors in both our countries. Historically, our respective industries have benefited when Canada and the United States collaborate on matters of mutual interest and we are confident that the level of trust and cooperation we have established will allow this to continue.

"We discussed newly proposed U.S. agricultural quarantine and inspection user fees, which the USDA intends to use to fund additional inspection staff at border points and airports. Recognizing the importance of this matter, Canada and the U.S. have agreed to work collaboratively on this issue.

"We discussed the important issue of temporary U.S. trade requirements on some Quebec agricultural products after Golden Nematode was found on a farm near Montreal. The federal and provincial governments have taken steps to prevent this pest from spreading and Canada is seeking a modification to current U.S. quarantine restrictions, which are not only impacting Quebec's farmers, but the American industry which relies on the province's products.

"While the most recent cases of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in Canada are consistent with international experience, they have been an unfortunate setback. Normalizing the beef and cattle trade in North America remains an objective shared by industry on both side of the border and we emphasized the importance being expeditious and thorough on the second rule to normalize trade as soon as possible.

"We also discussed the current challenges facing the international community after World Trade Organization negotiations were suspended this past July.

"Both governments are committed to action that creates opportunities for farm families. Canada and the United States have an unparalleled level of cooperation that benefits our countries and we intend to ensure this continues."

SOURCE: USDA news release.