FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 9, 2007
The tally grows for BSE cases in Canada: Montana Farmers Union calls
for COOL and border closure
Great Falls, MT – Canadian officials confirmed yet another case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) – this time in a mature bull born years after Canada’s seemingly stringent 1997 feed ban. In response, Montana Farmers Union (MFU) is reiterating its support for the full, immediate implementation of country of origin labeling (COOL) and is pushing the USDA to reconsider plans to allow the importation of Canadian live cattle over thirty months of age (OTM).
“It is absolutely imperative that COOL take effect immediately,” MFU Executive Director Tracy Houck said in a statement following the Canadian confirmation. “This is an economic issue for Montana’s cattle producers as well as a health and safety issue for the citizens of Montana and the United States. We have seen the effects of BSE-positive cattle on producers’ ability to fully capture the Asian export market when Japan banned the importation of U.S. beef and currently with trade talks with Korea. Moreover, consumer confidence most definitely declines with the rising threat of BSE entering via our northern border,” Houck continued.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has announced his assurance that this detection of BSE in Alberta should not impact U.S. trade with Canada.
“This statement is not reassuring at all,” said Houck. “Continued trade is secondary to the health and safety of U.S. cattle herds and consumers. In light of this BSE case and others in recent months, labeling to ensure healthful products remains paramount.”
Canadian government officials defend the 1997 feed ban citing that most recent cases were most likely residual and not indicative of the failure of the policy.
While the claim may be offered in good faith, MFU asserts that until adequate safeguards, namely COOL, are in place the possible importation of BSE is too real a threat to await its eradication. The time is now for COOL.