The Agriculture Department will not allow meat from older cattle when it expands U.S. imports of Canadian beef on March 7, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said Wednesday.

The United States had been planning to allow meat from animals of any age and from live cattle younger than 30 months. Now the age limit will apply to beef as well as live cattle.

But lawmakers and Johanns himself questioned whether that was contradictory, and U.S. meatpackers worried it would flood their market with cheaper Canadian cuts of beef.

Johanns said he remained confident that resuming trade in live cattle would not harm U.S. consumers and livestock. He directed Agriculture Department officials to start moving toward lifting all restrictions on Canadian beef.