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Thursday, July 14, 2005

(Ontario, Canada, July 13, 2005) – On the same day that U.S. Department of Justice attorneys urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to reverse a preliminary injunction that has blocked restoration of cattle and beef trade with Canada, AMI Foundation President James H. Hodges told a Canadian audience that if Canadian cattle imports are not restored soon, irreversible damage will continue to occur in the U.S. beef industry.

“A review of the numbers paints a grim picture. In the U.S., 7.800 jobs have been lost, several plants have closed, thousands of full-time packing plants jobs are now part-time and U.S. beef slaughter capacity has been drastically reduced,” Hodges told the Ontario Cattle Feeders Summer Feeders Forum in an address this evening. “We’ve been talking about the ‘fundamental restructuring’ that has been occurring in the North American beef industry. At this point, perhaps we should just call it what it is: an irreversible dismantling of a world-class, integrated North American beef industry.”

Hodges told the group that he appreciated the opportunity to speak directly to a Canadian audience so that they could see for themselves that the U.S. beef industry supports free trade, not the isolationism championed by the minority group R-CALF. He urged them to visit AMI’s web site www.OpenBeefBorders.com in order to fully appreciate the U.S. beef industry’s level of commitment to free trade and to ending the cattle and beef embargo.

In his speech, Hodges also detailed for the audience AMI’s view that the U.S. and Canada provide cattle and beef that are both equally healthy and safe. “R-CALF’s efforts to make a distinction between the two in an effort to prevent Canadian imports are simply not rooted in scientific fact,” Hodges said. He noted that recent publicity has prompted many newspaper editorial boards to call upon the United States to expand testing or to test all cattle – an idea that Hodges called “scientifically insupportable and misleading to consumers.”

“Everyone wants a silver bullet when it comes to BSE, and testing seems to be the one for which newspapers are reaching lately,” he said. “Testing young animals, from which most U.S. beef is derived, makes no scientific sense. Just like we know that young children would never test positive for Alzheimer’s disease, young beef cattle won’t test positive for BSE either. In fact, leading BSE expert Dr. Will Hueston of the University of Minnesota, who served on the U.S. international BSE review team, has called testing young cattle for BSE ‘veterinary malpractice.’ We must reject so-called solutions that are based more on feelings than on facts.”

He said the U.S. BSE surveillance system is designed to detect BSE in cattle if it exists at a rate of 1 in ten million cattle with 99 percent confidence. The surveillance system appropriately targets animals that have the potential to test positive: older animals or those unable to walk. After a year of this aggressive testing, U.S. officials are appropriately confident that to the extent BSE exists in the U.S. cattle population, it exists at extremely low levels in much the same way as it appears to exist in Canada.
“Together, the U.S. and Canada have built an enormously successful North American beef complex. Future success will be determined by our ability to compete against global competitors as partners. The situation that R-CALF’s efforts have created is llike putting two best friends in a boxing ring together. This simply isn’t how it should be.”

He closed by thanking the Canadian cattle industry for its patience and its support and by pledging to do everything possible to normalize trade. He also distributed black silicone wrist bands that say OpenBeefBorders.com that attendees could choose to wear as a symbol of U.S.-Canadian solidarity.

“I know how frustrating it is for us in the U.S. to feel hamstrung by one minority group that identified a sympathetic judge to help their efforts to block trade,” said Hodges said. “I know you share that frustration and I thank you for your patience and your support. What’s happening is a tragedy and we can only hope that with good science, good lawyers and persistence, our two industries will be able to again work as partners instead of competitors.”


For more information contact:
David Ray
Vice President, Public Affairs
Janet Riley
Sr. Vice President, Public Affairs

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