Cattle Producers seek to Extend Comment Period on Canadian Cattle Imports

BILLINGS, MONT. - R-CALF USA sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns to formally request that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) extend the public comment period regarding the agency’s proposal to allow imports of Canadian cattle over 30 months (OTM) of age.
calendar icon 24 May 2002
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The current deadline for comments is March 12 for APHIS-2006-0041: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE); Minimal-Risk Regions; Importation of Live Bovines and Products Derived from Bovines. R-CALF USA requested the deadline be extended for 60 days, or for 30 days, after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) releases the final epidemiological investigation concerning the latest Canadian BSE case confirmed on Feb. 7, whichever date is later.

“News reports indicate this latest [Canadian BSE] case was born in 2000, years after the implementation of the Canadian feed ban, as well as after the March 1999 date that USDA has determined to be the date when the Canadian feed ban became fully implemented and effective in preventing the spread of BSE,” R-CALF USA’s letter states. “If indeed this latest BSE case is the fourth born after March 1999, it will raise serious questions about the proposed OTM Rule that allows cattle born after March 1999 to be imported into the U.S. from Canada.”

Also in support of its request, R-CALF USA stated that its members are included among the ‘small entities’ for which USDA acknowledges it does not have enough data for a comprehensive analysis of the OTM Rule’s potential economic effects. The letter also states: “Even without enough data, however, the OTM Rule predicts losses to U.S. cattle producers ranging as high as $1 billion.

“Due to the agency’s lack of sufficient data to adequately assess the economic effects of the OTM Rule on the thousands of small entities represented by R-CALF USA’s membership, substantially more time is needed than the current 60-day comment period for R-CALF USA to adequately compile, analyze, summarize, and submit available data necessary to enable USDA to assess the economic effects of the OTM Rule on R-CALF USA’s membership…,” states the letter.

In 2006, with a vote of 3,815-22, R-CALF USA members established policy that instructed the board of directors to “take appropriate action to challenge and stop USDA from allowing the importation of beef products from cattle older than 30 months of age, as well as the importation of live cattle over 30 months (OTM) of age, from Japan or any other BSE-affected country.”

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