Cattle import rules clarified

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Aug 8, 2005
by WLJ

— Condemnations feared by Canada.
— More feeder cattle entering the U.S.

Officials with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) last week clarified that there are some differences between regulations regarding Canadian feeder and fed cattle. In addition, Canada’s concern that Canadian cattle could be condemned upon entering U.S. packing plants was not acknowledged by USDA officials.
After saying that both fed and feeder cattle needed a “CAN” brand on their right hip upon being loaded on a truck destined for the U.S., APHIS officials said that was not the case. Instead, Canadian feeder cattle destined for U.S. feedlots must have the brand, while fed cattle for immediate slaughter are only required to be identified with an approved Canadian tag. Feeder cattle must also have an approved Canadian eartag in place when they cross the border.
In addition to the appropriate identification, extensive paperwork needs to accompany the cattle. In the case of fed cattle, up to eight trucks can haul a specific “volume” of cattle, as long as all the trucks in the fleet carry two copies of the appropriate paperwork identifying all the cattle involved. Feeder cattle are a different story, however, as each truck must have the appropriate paperwork for just the cattle on it, APHIS sources said.
During the recent National Cattlemen’s Beef Association mid-year meeting, members of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) told WLJ they are concerned that Canadian fed cattle might be condemned upon entering U.S. processing plants because of a lost and/or transposed eartag or some “minor discrepancy” in the paper work.
“We are concerned that Canadian cattle can be unfairly kept from the U.S. market if there is some minor problem with the ID apparatus or paper work that accompanies the cattle from Canada to the (U.S.) processor,” said Dennis Laycraft, executive vice president of CCA. “Every precaution has been taken to assure that Canadian cattle being exported meet the U.S.’ criteria of being under 30 months of age.”
APHIS officials last week would not confirm or deny whether or not any Canadian fed cattle have been kept from being processed due to any paperwork or eartag problems.
Canadian feeder and fed cattle were both allowed to begin entering the U.S. on July 18, the week following an announcement overturning a preliminary injunction blocking their entry. As of Aug. 2, a total of 16,315 cattle had come in from Canada, 8,418 of them being feeder cattle and the other 7,897 being fed cattle going directly to U.S. slaughter facilities.
Market analysts still said the volume of Canadian cattle carried minimal impact against U.S. cattle prices, but said that more severe price pressure could be seen on feeder cattle during the fourth quarter of the year when Canadian calves start being weaned and marketed.
Feeder cattle imports from Canada more than doubled over several days. The number of fed cattle entering the U.S. ranged between 700-1,300 head July 26 through Aug. 2. Those figures account for anywhere between one-half-of-one percent and one percent of daily U.S. slaughter volume.
“It’s not carrying any impact on the fed market right now,” one Midwest analyst told WLJ. — Steven D. Vetter, WLJ Editor

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