Monday, more than 100 agricultural organizations and livestock auction yards from around the country sent a letter to U.S. Senate leaders to seek help to prevent the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from implementing its proposed rule to allow Canadian cattle over 30 months (OTM) of age into the United States.

“Canada’s ongoing struggle with its bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) epidemic continues to disrupt international beef trade and continues to create hardships for the U.S. cattle industry when Canadian cattle and beef are mixed with U.S. cattle and beef,” the letter states in part. “USDA’s proposal is premature and will cause additional and potentially severe consequences for U.S. independent cattle producers…The following reasons justify congressional action against USDA’s proposed rule and demonstrate that Congress should intercede to protect the health and safety of the U.S. cattle herd, the safety of the U.S. beef supply, and the viability of the U.S. cattle industry:

1. Allowing older Canadian cattle into the United States will further harm the United States’ ability to fully restore lost export markets.

2. The full magnitude of Canada’s BSE epidemic is still unfolding, but it is already much greater than what USDA has asserted and assumed.

3. Cattle over 30 months of age that originate in a BSE-affected country have an inherently higher risk for transmitting BSE.

4. As previously recognized by the Food and Drug Administration, and as recognized by international BSE experts, current BSE mitigation measures, principally the U.S. and Canadian feed bans, are inadequate to address the increased risk associated with older Canadian cattle.

5. Allowing older Canadian cattle into the United States will immediately harm the United States’ international disease risk profile.

6. The financial losses to U.S. cattle producers will likely be severe if the United States allows higher-risk Canadian cattle into the U.S. market.

Given the importance of the U.S. cattle industry to the economic well-being of Rural America, we trust that you will consider our request favorably,” the letter concludes. “Please contact any of the undersigned organizations should you have any questions regarding our position. We look forward to working with you on this important issue.”

A copy of the letter was submitted yesterday into the official record for USDA’s rulemaking proceeding on the OTM rule. The public comment period for those proceedings ended yesterday. The R-CALF USA CEO will hand-deliver the joint letter to U.S. Senate leaders while in Washington, D.C., this week.

Signatories include:

Albany County Stockgrowers Association – Wyoming

American Grassfed Association

Arkansas Animal Producer's Association

Belmont Fresh Meats – Wisconsin

The Butcher Shop – Wisconsin

Buckeye Quality Beef Association – Ohio

Calaveras County Cattlemen’s Association – California

Cass County Farmers Union – Minnesota

Cattle Producers of Washington

Cattlemen’s Weighing Association – North Dakota

Central Colorado Cattlemen’s Association

Colorado Independent Cattlemen’s Association

Converse County Stockgrowers – Wyoming

Crowley-Kiowa-Lincoln Cattlemen’s Association – Colorado

Dakota Resource Council

Eagle County Cattlemen’s Association – Colorado

Glacial Ridge Cattlemen of Minnesota

Grant County Cattleman’s – Washington

Harding County Stockgrowers – South Dakota

Idaho County Farm Bureau – Idaho

Independent Beef Association of North Dakota

Independent Cattlemen of Iowa

Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska

Kansas Cattlemen’s Association

Kit Carson County Cattlemen’s Association – Colorado

Madera County Cattlemen’s Association – California

McPherson County Farmers Union – Kansas

Merced Mariposa Cattlemen’s Association – California

Mesa County Cattlemen’s Association – Colorado

Mid Oregon Beef Co-Op

Minnesota Cattlemen’s Association

Minnesota Farmers Union

Mississippi Livestock Markets Association

Missouri's Best Beef

Missouri Bison Association

Modoc County Cattlemen’s Association – California

Modoc County Cattlewomen’s Association – California

Montana Cattlemen’s Association

Morrow County Livestock Growers Association – Oregon

Navajo County Cattlemen’s Association – Arizona

Nevada Live Stock Association

New Mexico Cattle Growers Association

North Washoe Unit, Nevada Cattlemen's Association – Nevada and California

Northwest Stockmen of Minnesota

New York Beef Producers Association Southern Tier Region

Okanogan County Cattlemen’s Association – Washington

Oregon Livestock Producer Association

Organization for Competitive Markets

Perkins County Livestock Improvement Association – South Dakota

Powder River Basin Resource Council – Wyoming

Producers Livestock – Nebraska

R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America

South Dakota CattleWomen

South Dakota Farmers Union

South Dakota Livestock Auction Markets Association

South Dakota Stockgrowers Association

Southern Colorado Livestock Association

Southwestern Colorado Livestock Association

Spokane County Cattlemen’s Association – Washington

Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association – Washington

TenStar Technologies – Montana

Washington County Stockmen’s Association – Colorado

Washington Cattlemen’s Association

Weiser River Cattle Association – Idaho

West Carroll Cattlemen’s Association – Louisiana

Wisconsin Independent Livestock Dealers and Auction Markets

Wyoming Stock Growers Association

Livestock Auction Yards:

Aberdeen Livestock Sales Co. – South Dakota

Anderson Livestock Auction – Utah

Atkinson Livestock Market – Nebraska

Bassett Livestock Auction – Nebraska

Belle Fourche Livestock Exchange – South Dakota

Bloomington Livestock Exchange – Wisconsin

Buffalo Livestock Auction – Wyoming

Cortez Livestock Auction – Colorado

Crawford Livestock Market – Nebraska

Creston Livestock Auction – Iowa

Cuero Livestock Market – Texas

Decorah Sales Commission – Iowa

Delhi Livestock Auction – Louisiana

Dunlap Livestock Auction – Iowa

Faith Livestock Commission – South Dakota

Fort Pierre Livestock Auction – South Dakota

Galesburg Livestock Sales – Illinois

Gordon Livestock Market – Nebraska

Herreid Livestock Market – South Dakota

Idabel Stockyards – Oklahoma

Imperial Auction Market – Nebraska

Lemmon Livestock – South Dakota

Martin Livestock Auction – South Dakota

Mobridge Livestock Market – South Dakota

Modoc Auction Yard – California

Nampa Livestock Markets – Idaho

Neel Cattle dba Dothan Livestock Co. – Alabama

Philip Livestock Auction – South Dakota

Presho Livestock Auction – South Dakota

Producers Livestock Marketing Association – Oregon

Riverton Livestock Auction – Wyoming

Sebastopol Livestock – Mississippi

Shasta Livestock Auction – California

Sheridan Livestock Auction Co. – Nebraska

Smithfield Livestock Auction – Utah

Southeast Mississippi Livestock

St. Francis Livestock Auction – Kansas

St. Onge Livestock – South Dakota

Treasure Valley Livestock Auction – Idaho

Valentine Livestock Auction – Nebraska

Verdigre Livestock Market – Nebraska

Watertown Livestock Auction – South Dakota

West Point Stockyard – Mississippi

Winner Livestock Auction – South Dakota

Winter Livestock – Kansas

Note: To view the letter, visit the “BSE-Litigation” link at www.r-calfusa.com.