Canada feed ban working

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Mar 7, 2005
by WLJ
Approximately one month after USDA experts returned from their investigative mission to Canada in which they sought to determine the effectiveness of that country’s ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban, the agency released an official report of the findings. Overall, USDA found Canada to be in compliance and just as proficient as the U.S. with a similar feed ban. The results answered many of the industry’s questions that arose after two cows from separate herds were discovered to be infected with BSE within the first few weeks of January.
“After the two recent BSE finds in Canada, it was important to get a team up there to conduct a firsthand assessment of Canada’s compliance with the feed ban,” said Dr. Ron DeHaven, administrator of USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). “This assessment affirms our science-based decision to begin lifting the ban on live ruminants and ruminant products from Canada that have virtually no risk to human or animal health.”
There was speculation that the release of this report would have an impact on the Montana District Court case seeking a temporary restraining order to keep the border closed. But, after last Wednesday’s ruling from the bench, industry officials felt as if the findings were not even considered by District Judge Richard Cebull.
USDA assembled a team of experts and arrived in Canada on Jan. 24. Representative’s from USDA’s APHIS, Foreign Agriculture Service, Agricultural Marketing Service, and the Food and Drug Administration traveled around Canada and evaluated processes and procedures related to the feed ban, including: the structure and authorities of Canada’s Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), feed ban implementation, inspection and compliance activities, proposed future activities, and CFIA’s plans for auditing of the current feed ban.
The experts even went so far as to review verification programs and procedures. This included a review of all documents currently stored at CFIA, training documents, inspector checklists, program plans and projections, and Feed Inspection Review reports. USDA’s verification activities were focused on actual inspections of commercial feed mills and rendering facilities. USDA said these efforts were warranted as an additional step to ensure Canada was in compliance with the feed ban measures and ensure that opening the border to Canadian cattle on March 7 would be safe.
In a hearing on Feb.3, Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Johanns said USDA would be “absolutely transparent” with the results of the investigation and would release those results as soon as available. USDA did appear to be transparent in its 130-page report.
The inspection team’s report stated, “Canada has a robust inspection program, that overall compliance with the feed ban is good and that the feed ban is reducing the risk of transmission of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in the Canadian cattle population.”
The report also said the Canadian feed ban is not substantially different from the U.S. feed ban. Two minor differences between the U.S. and Canadian feed bans, as reported by the investigative team, were that the U.S. allows plate waste and poultry litter to be used in ruminant feed, whereas Canadian feed regulations make no such allowances.
In both the feed ban assessment that USDA released last week and the risk assessment conducted by APHIS as part of the BSE minimal-risk rule, USDA found that compliance by feed mills and rendering facilities in Canada to feed ban regulations is good and, just like the U.S., Canada is continually looking for ways to improve it.
USDA added that it is confident that the animal and public health measures that Canada has in place to prevent BSE, combined with existing U.S. domestic safeguards and additional safeguards provided in the final rule, provide the utmost protections to U.S. consumers and livestock. USDA wanted to remind producers and consumers that when Canadian ruminants and ruminant products are presented for importation into the U.S., they become subject to domestic safeguards as well.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) conducted an investigation similar to that of USDA APHIS. Nine U.S. cattlemen traveled to Canada last month about the same time as the USDA experts. The NCBA team reported, “The Canadian feed industry appears to be in compliance with its feed ban, based on visual inspections and audit reports.”
In response to USDA releasing the report, Jamie Willrett, leader of the NCBA delegation to Canada, said, “This report validates the findings of our trade team. Questions remain about specific aspects of the proposed Canadian rule, but we appreciate the release of this report and our government’s willingness to address our concerns.”
A report was given to NCBA members by the investigative team at its annual convention last month. NCBA members then adopted an 11-point directive regarding resumption of trade with Canada. NCBA said the release of USDA feed ban compliance report met one of the criteria of that directive. The criteria was: “Assurance that all Canadian firewalls to prevent BSE, specifically adherence to the feed ban, are functioning properly.”
NCBA President Jim McAdams added, “NCBA supports taking steps toward normalizing global trade as a means to increase profitability for U.S. cattle producers. Our priority remains focused on resuming trade with our own export markets such as Japan and South Korea, but we are clearly making progress in all these trade areas.”
For a copy of the feed ban assessment, the final rule, and other documents pertaining to BSE, producers are encouraged to visit the APHIS BSE website at