The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released its assessment of the Canadian ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns in a hearing Feb. 3 before the Senate Agriculture Committee stated that USDA would be "absolutely transparent" with the results of the assessment and would immediately release it when it
was available.

"After the two recent BSE finds in Canada, it was important to get a team up there to conduct a firsthand assessment of Canada's compliance with the feed ban," said Dr. Ron DeHaven, Administrator of USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). "This assessment affirms our science-based decision to begin lifting the ban on live ruminants and ruminant products from Canada that have virtually no risk to human or animal health."

USDA is confident that the animal and public health measures that Canada has in place to prevent BSE, combined with existing U.S. domestic safeguards and additional safeguards provided in the final rule, provide the utmost
protections to U.S. consumers and livestock. When Canadian ruminants and ruminant products are presented for importation into the United States, they become subject to domestic safeguards as well.

On Jan. 4, USDA published a final rule that amends the regulations to provide for the importation of certain ruminants, ruminant products and byproducts from regions that pose a minimal risk of introducing BSE. Canada will be the first country recognized as a minimal-risk region and, as such, will be eligible to export to the United States live cattle, as well as certain other animals and products, from animals under 30 months of age. The rule is to go into effect on March 7, 2005.

Source: USDA Release