Mato Grosso Fazendas
Home Page Company Location For Sale Services PartnerShip Announce Contact
Kind of property:
Area per Hectare:




Mad cows and USDA, the nightmare continues

Mad cow disease, one of many challenges faced by former Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, is already on the plate of her successor, Mike Johanns. On his first full day on the job Monday, Johanns was in meetings on the subject and relating his views on how it will affect beef trade with Japan, country of origin labeling and reopening the border with Canada for live cattle imports.

When one case of mad cow disease or BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) was discovered in Washington state in December, 2003, Japan banned imports of U.S. beef. Since then, USDA officials and even President George W. Bush, have been urging Japan to resume imports. Japan has tentatively agreed to accept U.S. beef animals under 21 months of age but progress stalled over differences on how age would be verified.

Johanns said Monday that many other countries have already resumed imports of U.S. beef. He hopes the process of restoring beef trade with Japan will be helped by his friendships with Japanese officials from trade missions to Japan as Nebraska governor.

"I really believe that the day has arrived for trade to resume," he said Monday, emphasizing that reopening Japan to beef exports is his top priority on the job right now.

Johanns would not say whether the USDA will delay plans to reopen our own border to imports of Canadian beef on March 7.

A team of USDA scientists is leaving this afternoon for Canada to learn more about a third case of Canadian mad cow disease.

When they return, they"ll brief Johanns. "I"ve asked for personal reports of what they"re finding out," he said.

When asked whether Congressional concerns about resuming Canadian beef imports will spur the Bush administration to change its position on country of origin labeling, Johanns said the administration still prefers voluntary, not mandatory labeling.

"I will support the Administration position," he said, adding that "I have not had a specific conversation with the Administration about what they intend to do on country of origin labeling."

The Administration may be facing a battle with the U.S. Senate on that issue. Monday Senators Jim Johnson, a Democrat from South Dakota, and Mike Enzi, a Republican from Wyoming introduced legislation that would keep the Canadian border closed to beef imports until mandatory COOL was put in place.

The bill reflects Johnson"s frustration with the Administration"s opposition to COOL, says his spokesman, Noah Pinegar. Johanns met with Johnson last week and was candid about the White House stand on COOL. "They"ve at least been honest about their opposition," Pinegar said.

The USDA"s proposed rule to open the Canadian border to beef imports is also being challenged in court by R-CALF and USDA attorneys are meeting with those of the cattle ranchers" organization, Johanns said.

"I fully expect to be immersed in this whole area in the days ahead," he told reporters Monday.

Español Português