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Beef prices tumble on news of one Canadian cow with BSE

(Tuesday, May 20, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- News of the discovery of a single case of mad cow disease in Alberta, Canada's premier beef-producing province, sent agricultural markets tumbling.

Agriculture Minister Lyle Vanclief told the CBC: "I want to stress this is one cow. The animal did not go into the food chain." Authorities had quarantined the herd from which it came and would be "depopulated once the necessary samples have been obtained."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture temporarily banned imports of Canadian beef. After that, cattle for June delivery fell 1.5 cents to 72.4 cents a pound on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

A number of countries banned the import of British beef in the 1990s following an outbreak of mad cow disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Scientists believe a link exists between BSE and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.

Below is a statement today from USDA Secretary Ann M. Veneman

“I have spoken with Canada ’s Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lyle Vanclief a short time ago about Canada ’s investigation and feel that all appropriate measures are being taken in what appears to be an isolated case of bovine spongiform encephalophathy. Information suggests that risk to human health and the possibility of transmission to animals in the United States is very low.

“USDA is placing Canada under its BSE restriction guidelines and will not accept any ruminants or ruminant products from Canada pending further investigation. We are dispatching a technical team to Canada to assist in the investigation and will provide more detailed information as it becomes available.”

“The United States remains diligent in its BSE surveillance and prevention efforts. In 1997, the Food and Drug Administration prohibited the use of most mammalian protein in the manufacture of animal feed intended for cows and other ruminants to stop the way the disease is thought to spread.

“Since 1989, the U.S. government has taken a series of preventive actions to protect against this animal disease. This includes USDA prohibitions on the import of live ruminants, such as cattle, sheep, goats and most ruminant products from countries that have or are considered to be at risk for having BSE.

“In fiscal year 2002, USDA tested 19,990 cattle for BSE using a targeted surveillance approach designed to test the highest risk animals, including downer animals (animals that are non-ambulatory at slaughter), animals that die on the farm, older animals and animals exhibiting signs of neurological distress.”

Statement from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

May 20, 2003

For Immediate Release:

Contact: Mark Ritchie, 612-870-3400, cell 612-385-7921

Ben Lilliston, 301-270-4787 IATP Calls on USDA to Protect U.S. Farmers, Consumers, and Livestock from Mad Cow Disease

Minneapolis, Minnesota - The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy is calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure that U.S. farmers, consumers and livestock herds are fully protected from the possible spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, from the contaminated herd identified in Alberta, Canada earlier today.

"Given the total integration of the Canadian, U.S. and Mexican beef industries, largely the result of the North American Free Trade Agreement, we know that this long-delayed announcement will be devastating to family farmers and ranchers in all three countries," stated Mark Ritchie, President of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

"In this day of industrialized beef production and liberalized trade, it is disingenuous to say this is about one isolated cow. The BSE cow spent only the last three years on this farm. With an incubation period of up to six years for this disease, we need to be tracing not only that cow's history, but all the herds it has been a part of," continued Ritchie. "The most likely method of transmission is through animal feed. If that's the case, we need to investigate and identify all animals that consumed that feed -- this investigation may cover multiple farms and multiple countries."

Over 500,000 live cattle were shipped to the U.S. from Alberta in 2002. There is no labeling on beef in U.S. grocery stores as to whether it was produced in the U.S. or Canada.

"This kind of health danger demands the clear application of the precautionary principle," said Ritchie. "If there were suspicions about the presence of mad cow then there should have been an absolute ban on any part of the infected cow from entering the food supply. What we know is that the cow was sent off to a rendering plant and that the products of rendering plants are used to feed other animals, which can easily end up back in the human food chain."

If this mad cow contamination causes a plunge in beef and feed crop prices, IATP is calling upon the U.S. government to make money available to help the nearly one million beef producers and feed crop farmers in the U.S.. It is also time for Congress to enact a total ban on the feeding of animal parts of any kind to farm animals. It is a dangerous practice that threatens the livelihood of our nation's farmers and the public health.

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy promotes resilient family farms, rural communities and ecosystems around the world through research and education, science and technology, and advocacy.

R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America For Immediate Release

Contact John Lockie

May 20, 2003

406-252-2516, johnlockie@r-calfusa.com

Canada Identifies BSE in Domestic Herd

(Billings, MT) In a shocking announcement Canadian government officials in a press conference today reported a cow in Alberta has been positively identified to be infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), also knows as Mad Cow Disease. Rumors of the case of BSE early this morning fueled a limit down crash in the cattle market.

R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA), a long time supporter of mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL), is very concerned about the implications this will have on consumer confidence without the ability for consumers to choose between foreign and domestic beef. R-CALF USA President Leo McDonnell said, This is devastating news for the U.S. cattle market. Because of NAFTA, Canada has free access to the U.S. market and their beef is not labeled for the consumer. There is currently no way for consumers to know for certain if the beef they are eating came from Canada or not.

Following the press conference by Canadian Ag Minister Lyle Vanclief, USDA Ag Secretary Ann Veneman closed the U.S. border to imports of "ruminant products" from Canada until further notice.

R-CALF USA will release more information as it becomes available.

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R-CALF USA, the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America is a national, non-profit cattle association representing cattle producers in the areas of trade and marketing. R-CALF USA has 8,700 individual members in 43 states and more than 35 affiliated local and state cattle and farm organizations. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or call 406-252-2516.