March 08, 2005

CRAPO CALLS BEEF IMPORT RULE INTO QUESTION

Points to Tysonâ??s extended suspension as further proof of problem

Washington, DC â?? In a Senate hearing today, Idaho Senator Mike Crapo brought Idaho into the center of the debate over the impending beef import rule from the Agriculture Department. The hearing before the Senate Agriculture Committee focused on the effects of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) on U.S. imports and exports of cattle and beef. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns was the primary witness in a nearly three-hour hearing on Capitol Hill. Crapo stressed the importance of U.S. producers regaining the foreign export markets, especially Japan. He said, â??We cannot let this languish. In Idaho, we already have one local plant in extended suspension, in large measure as a result of the current export situation with beef.â?? Crapo encouraged Johanns to continue to push for re-opening of Pacific Rim markets to U.S. cattle and beef exports. â??Due to Idahoâ??s geographic location, Idahoans have benefited greatly from past beef trade with Pacific Rim countries, and prolonged closure of the Asian markets hurts Idaho producers and our economy.â?? Since the U.S. border opened for importation of Canadian beef products under 30 months of age, Canadian producers have increased their processing capacity by as much as 30 percent. â??U.S. cattle producers and our economy are impacted as domestic processing capabilities are squeezed and shifted above the border,â?? Crapo said during the hearing. Crapo further questioned the science behind a specific provision of the rule, set to take effect March 7th, that would expand beef products that will be allowed into the U.S. â??I am concerned with the portion of the rule that provides for the import of beef over 30 months of age, even though cattle over 30 months of age will not be allowed to be imported. It is inconsistent to ban cattle over 30 months of age while allowing in boxed beef over 30 months of age.â?? During questioning, Johanns indicated USDA will continue to work to regain U.S. export markets quickly. He also indicated that he understood the concerns with the inconsistencies pointed out by Crapo and others on the committee in the expected rule and plans to address it. # # # FOR INTERESTED MEDIA: A radio actuality is available by calling 1-800-545-1267. Press 327 at any time during or after the greeting and instructions. You can also access the actuality through the Internet at http://src.senate.gov/radio/.