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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 May, 2003, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
Farmer's anxiety over Canadian BSE
BSE affected cow
BSE has cost the Canadian farming industry nearly 5m

When farmer Richard Walker moved to Canada to get away from the problems caused by BSE in Britain, he thought he had left his worries behind.

But he is now reliving the anxiety of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, in his adopted country.

Export markets shut their doors to Canadian beef this week after the federal government there confirmed a cow slaughtered in January had tested positive for mad cow disease.

It stressed the animal had not entered the food chain.

I firmly wouldn't wish what happened in the UK to happen to Canadians
Richard Walker

But the industry has since been losing 11 million Canadian dollars (about 4.9m) a day in revenues as the extent of the problem in Canada is investigated.

Mr Walker sold his family's 3,000 acre crop and beef farm in Ludlow, Shropshire, two years ago and bought a 1,600 acre grain farm in western Manitoba to begin a new life.

Although his herd of 50 cattle in Shropshire had not been infected by the disease, he said he found it difficult to continue farming.

His farm was hit by marketing restrictions and a 30% to 40% slump in cattle prices.

He said in the wake of the outbreak and other high-profile food scares, restrictions on farmers and paperwork requirements became extreme.

Isolated case

"There was no freedom to farm," he said.

"You couldn't do anything without filling out a form. I firmly wouldn't wish what happened in the UK to happen to Canadians."

However, Mr Walker believes the Canadian incident will turn out to be isolated because the country has different farming practices than Britain.

He said that industries around the world have also learned from the British BSE crisis.

"Great Britain was one of the first to experience this and they were really thrown in the deep end," Mr Walker said.

First diagnosed in Britain in 1986, BSE affected 178,000 British cattle and resulted in the eventual destruction of 3.7 million animals.

Mad cow case scares beef trade
21 May 03  |  Business
Canada reports mad cow case
20 May 03  |  Americas


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