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Agriculture Secretary announces delay in importation of boxed beef over 30 months of age

Washington, DC â?? Secretary Mike Johnanns responded to concerns of the of Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Larry Craig and Idaho Congressmen Mike Simpson and C.L. â??Butchâ?? Otter and many in the U.S. cattle industry in delaying a provision of a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rule that would have allowed for the importation of beef product over 30 months of age. The U.S. border has been closed to imports of cattle and some beef products from Canada following the discovery of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in Canada. However, on Dec. 29, 2004, USDA released a final rule that would place Canada in the minimal-risk category for BSE and would provide for the resumption of trade of cattle less than 30 months of age and boxed beef over 30 months of age. The Idaho delegation wrote to Secretary Johanns on February 2, 2005 expressing concern with the rule and the contradictory provision of the rule that would prohibit the importation of cattle more than 30 months of age while permitting imports of meat from these same animals. Secretary Johanns responded today by delaying this provision.â?? â??It is inconsistent to ban cattle over 30 months of age while allowing in boxed beef over 30 months of age, and this provision is detrimental to beef producers and the cattle industry as a whole,â?? said Senator Crapo. â??I appreciate that Secretary Johanns understands our concerns and has agreed to delay this detrimental portion of the rule. Work still remains to regain our beef export markets, but this is certainly a step in the right direction." "I am very pleased that Secretary Johanns has taken action to address this discriminatory provision in the USDA's final rule,â?? said Senator Craig. â??It's important that the policy be science-based to ensure consumer confidence in the U.S. beef industry. Any policy must treat Idaho's producers, feeders, and processors fairly, and sound science should be the driver. I commend the Secretary for his leadership to address this issue quickly and effectively." "When looking at resuming beef trade with Canada, it is critical government officials take the necessary precautions to keep the public safe and ensure consumer confidence," said Congressman Simpson. "The recent decision by Secretary Johanns to delay the importation of beef products and live cattle over the age of thirty months is scientifically based and is the right thing to do at the current time." Congressman C.L. "Butch" Otter, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, said, "It's good to see that USDA acknowledges it needs more time to examine this issue. Secretary Johanns deserves our thanks for taking our concerns so seriously, and acting so promptly. I look forward to continuing to work closely with him on further improvements to the rule." A copy of this news release can also be found on the Internet at: # # #