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From: TSS ()
Subject: US Senate Passes Bill To Stop Canadian Cattle Imports
Date: March 3, 2005 at 7:19 pm PST

US Senate Passes Bill To Stop Canadian Cattle Imports


DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
March 3, 2005 2:45 p.m.

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Senate Thursday approved legislation that would stop the U.S. Department of Agriculture from lifting its ban on Canadian live cattle with a 52 to 46 vote.

The bill, a resolution of disapproval, would void USDA's rule, entitled "Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy: Minimal Risk Regions and Importation of Commodities," that would lift the U.S. ban on Canadian cattle under 30 months old and expand the types of Canadian beef allowed in.

The resolution, a means by which Congress can reject regulatory rules made by federal agencies as provided for in the 1996 Congressional Review Act, must also be approved by the House of Representatives and signed President George Bush to go into effect and cancel the USDA rule.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., predicted on the Senate floor earlier Thursday during debate over the resolution that Bush would veto it if the bill reached his desk. The White House confirmed Bush would veto the measure, and warned that continuing to refuse Canadian beef would damage efforts to persuade other countries to buy U.S. beef, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

The USDA, which has banned Canadian cattle since May 2003 when Canada announced the discovery of its first case of BSE , or mad-cow disease, had planned on opening the U.S. border to Canadian cattle on March 7. But a Federal District Court judge in Montana placed an injunction on USDA plan Wednesday.

Senators who opposed the USDA lifting its ban on Canadian cattle argued Thursday that imports may threaten the safety of the U.S. cattle herd as well as the human food supply because of multiple BSE cases in Canada, two of which were confirmed in January.

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., who introduced the resolution of disapproval and gathered enough support to force a Senate floor vote, said of Canada: "They've got mad-cow disease ... and now the question is should we run the risk of opening our border to livestock imports from Canada?"

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., warned that allowing in Canadian cattle would erode U.S. consumer confidence in its beef supply.

The U.S. reported finding a BSE case in December 2003, but USDA officials later said the cow was born and likely infected in Canada before it was exported to the U.S.

Chambliss accused many of the senators attempting to pass the resolution of disregarding science and seeking only to protect U.S. cattle ranchers from having to compete with imports from Canada.

The USDA predicted in February that Canada would export 1.3 million head of cattle to the U.S. in 2005 if the border was opened, according to the USDA plan.

-By Bill Tomson; Dow Jones Newswires; 202-646-0088; bill.tomson@dowjones.com

TSS



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