On Aug. 23, the Canadian government confirmed bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in another Alberta beef cow, making this the ninth BSE-positive animal of Canadian origin.

“R-CALF has been saying all along that it appears the prevalence of BSE in Canada is a lot higher than anybody anticipated,” said R-CALF USA President and Region V Director Chuck Kiker. “This raises a tremendous amount of concern, especially in light of the fact that it does not appear Canada’s meat and bone meal ban, or feed ban, was effective.

“With numerous cases of BSE in older Canadian cows, and the four cases in animals born after Canada’s 1997 feed ban, Canada could continue to discover BSE cases for years to come,” he added.

R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard said, “It is now obvious that Canada is experiencing its third, or perhaps fourth, generation of BSE infectivity in its feed system, which began back in 1993 when Canada detected its first BSE case in an animal imported from Great Britain.

“It is quite obvious that there is a hot spot for this disease in Alberta, and because most of the cattle and beef exports from Canada to the United States originate in Alberta, this development should cause USDA to immediately strengthen our import controls on Canadian cattle and beef.”

In mid-July, R-CALF USA sent letters to Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns and Congress urging USDA to take additional steps to ensure the BSE problem in Canada does not adversely affect exports of U.S. beef.

“One of those requests urged USDA to withdraw its proposed rule on importing Canadian cattle over 30 months (OTM) of age into the U.S., as well as beef products from those older Canadian animals,” Bullard continued. “We’re pleased that USDA did go ahead and withdraw the OTM proposal, but there are still steps the agency should take to return the U.S. to our original import standards, which previously were the highest in the world.”

R-CALF USA also requested that USDA take the following action:

• Rescind its Minimal Risk Region Rule that presently allows the importation of cattle and beef from cattle under 30 months of age from Canada until a comprehensive analysis is completed on Canada’s latest detection of a four-year, two-month old cow with BSE;

• End its practice of granting access to the U.S. market before the United States fully regains all of its lost export markets; and,

• Ensure that beef produced exclusively from U.S. cattle be clearly labeled with a Country-of-Origin Label (COOL) for consumers, both domestic and abroad.