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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 August, 2003, 07:26 GMT 08:26 UK
US eases Canada beef ban
By Ian Gunn
BBC correspondent in Vancouver

BSE-affected cow
BSE has cost the Canadian farming industry millions
The United States is to ease a ban on Canadian beef imports imposed following the discovery of BSE, better known as Mad Cow Disease, in Canada earlier this year.

A detailed investigation found only one case of the disease.

But the ban by the United States and many other countries has remained in place, crippling the country's important beef industry.

The American move is only a partial lifting of the ban but it is being warmly welcomed in Canada.

Huge losses

Just a single Canadian cow was found with BSE, but the effect on the country's beef industry has been profound.

More than 30 countries slammed their doors shut to Canadian beef in May, a move that the industry says has cost it $750 million already.

I cannot stress strongly enough that the continued protection of the US food supply is our top priority. The risk to public health is extremely low
Ann Veneman, US agriculture secretary

Now, however, US Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman says she believes Canadian beef is safe and will again allow some of it into the country.

But she has left heavy restrictions in place and that amounts to less than half the trade that it used to be.

Nonetheless, for Canadians, it is very welcome news.

The president of the Canadian Beef Export Federation, Ben Thorkalson, says it is a good start and hopes the American example will be followed elsewhere around the globe.

In recent days, politicians and ranchers have been warning of the complete collapse of Canada's beef industry within just a few weeks.

Now they say the American move means the industry, while badly shaken, will probably survive.


SEE ALSO:
Farmer's anxiety over Canadian BSE
24 May 03  |  Shropshire
Mad cow case scares beef trade
21 May 03  |  Business
Canada reports mad cow case
20 May 03  |  Americas


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