March 08, 2005

NEW CANADIAN BEEF IMPORT RULE HARMFUL TO IDAHO

Idaho Delegation expresses strong concerns in letter to Agriculture Secretary

Washington DC - Idaho Senators Larry Craig and Mike Crapo, along with Congressmen Mike Simpson and C.L. "Butch" Otter, expressed their concerns to Agriculture Secretary Michael Johanns today over the possible impact on Idaho beef producers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's recent decision to reopen cattle markets between the United States and Canada. The new rule is set to be implemented March 7 if finalized. It would prohibit live cattle over the age of 30 months from entering the United States. However, it would allow beef from these same animals to enter the United States and permit live cattle under 30 months of age to cross the U.S. border. In response, Idaho's Senators and Representatives are telling the USDA that its new rule is confusing to consumers and poses a significant threat to the economic vitality of Idaho's beef industry. "The final rule is misleading by prohibiting importation of live Canadian cows over thirty months of age, but permitting imports of meat from these same animals. This provision not only sends mixed signals to consumers and the international community, but also unfairly discriminates among those in the U.S. beef industry," Craig, Crapo, Simpson and Otter wrote in a letter to Secretary Johanns. The letter also stresses the importance of re-opening foreign borders, such as Japan, to U.S. beef exports before opening the U.S. border to Canadian imports. "Implementation of the final rule without re-establishment of these markets could devastate U.S. producers who are just beginning to experience profitability after years of continual losses." "We believe that implementation of the USDA's final rule will inflict significant harm on the U.S. beef industry in Idaho and the nation," the letter concluded. ###