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Truckload of Canadian cattle enters U.S.

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Truckload of Canadian cattle enters U.S.

A truck carrying live Canadian cattle crossed the border from Ontario into the United States on Monday morning, after a ban of more than two years was lifted.

A port animal technician inspects a shipment of 35 cattle at the border in Lewiston, N.Y. (AP photo)

Agriculture Canada told CBC News that a second truck would ship more cattle into the United States from Alberta later in the day.

Francine Lord, with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in Ottawa, said her office had been working closely with U.S. officials to ensure all the proper papers and procedures were in place.

"They told us today they were ready to receive some loads. So today we're going small, but we're going to increase more and more when the weeks go by."

Agriculture Canada officials wouldn't give more details about the first truckload, citing privacy concerns.

However, the Schaus Land and Cattle Company of Elmwood, Ont., said it shipped a load of 35 cattle across the border at Lewiston, N.Y., at about noon.

Ken Schaus told a radio station that the cattle were destined for a Pennsylvania slaughter facility.

The 26-month border closure, imposed in May 2003 when the first case of mad cow disease was confirmed in a Canadian-born animal, devastated the country's cattle industry. The Canadian Cattlemen's Association has estimated that the ban cost producers more than $5.6 billion.

The reopening of the border isn't expected to end the industry's woes immediately, in part because many people who used to truck the cattle have taken other jobs. As well, a number of northern U.S. packing plants have scaled down their operations in the absence of Canadian cattle to process.

Last week, a U.S. federal appeals court overturned a temporary injunction that was keeping the border closed, opening the door for live cattle under the age of 30 months to begin moving south again.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture had said that in light of the ruling, it would immediately begin the process to resume imports.

Federal Agriculture Minister Andy Mitchell said he was "cautiously optimistic" about the reopening of the border, even though it could still be affected by a second U.S. court hearing later in July.

"I think it's a good piece of progress and I think everybody is pleased to see that."

Reopening delayed by four months

Beef cattle wait before being herded into the auction ring. (CP photo)

The border reopened to Canadian cattle four months after farmers had been hoping that development to occur.

The agriculture department had been poised to reopen the border on March 7, but days before that would have happened, a Montana judge granted a temporary injunction sought by the American ranchers' group R-CALF.

The group argued that Canada doesn't adequately test for mad cow disease, and that letting cattle from north of the border into the United States would threaten the American beef industry.

The border fight is not yet over, however. R-CALF is to go back to court before the same judge on July 27, seeking to make the injunction permanent. It's not clear what the appeals court decision means for that hearing.

R-CALF has now said it will take the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The U.S. resumed the import of some cuts of Canadian beef in August 2003, but wouldn't allow live cattle to cross the border.

There have been three cases of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), identified in Canada since the first case in May 2003.

The first case identified in the U.S. – a cow in Washington state confirmed to have the disease in December 2003 – was born in Canada.

In June, the U.S. confirmed its first case of BSE in a U.S.-born cow.



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So much for the American farmers being over joyed with the extra business. tongue.gif

How many of them are praying tonight Mad Cow is found in Canadian cattle? tongue.gif

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