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Senate Vote on Canadian Trade "Short-sighted and Harmful to Long-term Economic Interests of U.S.," Says AMI

Thursday, March 3, 2005

The following statement should be attributed to Mike Brown, senior vice president, Legislative Affairs, American Meat Institute (AMI).

"We are very disappointed by today’s Senate vote in support of a resolution that would block the planned March 7 expansion of beef and cattle trade with Canada. We believe that Congressional actions like these serve not only to complicate justified efforts to import Canadian beef and cattle, but also hurt our own efforts to restore our export markets.

Over the last two years, the USDA has analyzed and assessed the steps taken in Canada to fight BSE, and has judged Canada to be "a minimal risk country" for BSE – safe for trade in beef and cattle by internationally-recognized standards.

Both Canadian and U.S. beef are safe. Despite efforts to cast it as such, today's vote was not about public health; it was about protectionism. The longer groups like R-CALF can keep out Canadian cattle and beef, the higher they can sustain U.S. cattle prices and their own profits. Unfortunately, when protectionism wins, we all lose in the long-term. This vote may well endanger ongoing negotiations to restore lost beef trade overseas.

The Bush Administration should be commended for its promise to veto this resolution, and for its recognition that the North American cattle market has been fully integrated for years, with its viability and longevity dependent on trade. The reopening of the border will protect the long-term viability of American producers, packers and processors, who depend on trade in cattle and beef from Canada for their mere survival.

There is no scientific or legal justification to prolong this two year ban on Canadian beef. We trust that cooler heads will prevail in the long term, and full trade with Canada will be restored."


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

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