USDA Proposes to Expand Canadian Beef Import Rules

WASHINGTON -- Consumer and industry groups criticized a plan, put forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, to allow additional beef and cattle imports from Canada.

WASHINGTON -- Consumer and industry groups criticized a plan, put forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, to allow additional beef and cattle imports from Canada. The USDA said Canada presents minimal risk of introducing mad cow disease into the U.S. The proposal expands upon an earlier rule published by APHIS that allowed imports of certain live ruminants and ruminant products from countries recognized as minimal risk. The new plan would include live cattle and other bovines for any use born on or after March 1, 1999; all beef and beef products; blood and blood products derived from bovines, collected under certain conditions; and other products. R-CALF USA, a ranchers' group, has asked Congress to intervene, saying it's premature to allow in cattle and beef over 30 months of age. Food & Water Watch, a consumer group, said the proposal shows the USDA is more concerned about "pleasing trading partners than protecting public health." Animals older than 30 months carry a higher risk of having the disease.