February 11, 2005 -- Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns on Wednesday provided the following statement: "Our ongoing investigations into the recent finds of BSE in Canada in animals over 30 months are not complete. Therefore, I feel it is prudent to delay the effective date for allowing imports of meat from animals 30 months and over.
"This action also addresses concerns over the portion of the minimal-risk rule that would reopen the Canadian border for beef from animals 30 months and over, while keeping it closed for imports of older live cattle for processing in the United States.
"At the same time, I am asking U.S. officials to move forward in consideration and development of a plan to allow imports of animals 30 months and older for slaughter as well as beef from over 30-month animals as the next step in resuming full trade with Canada.
"We remain very confident that the combination of the rule?s requirements, in addition to the animal and public health measures that Canada has in place to prevent the spread of BSE, along with the extensive U.S. regulatory food-safety and animal-health systems, provide the protection to U.S. consumers and livestock. The removal of Specified Risk Materials is the most effective barrier to protect consumers, and therefore the rest of the rule will proceed as announced."
According to Paul Rodgers, deputy director of policy for the American Sheep Industry Association, "Other animals and products, such as young cattle as well as lambs and meat from these younger animals, will be allowed to enter the United States under the provision of the final rule on minimal risk regions on March 7."
Staff contact: Paul Rodgers, 303-771-3500