WINNIPEG, Manitoba - Canada and the United States have agreed to
maintain livestock and meat trade during animal disease outbreaks using a
new system that targets trade bans more precisely by region, Canadian
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said on Wednesday.
In 2003, the United States and many other countries halted beef
imports from Canada after the discovery of bovine spongiform
encephalopathy, or BSE, on a Western Canada farm. The trade bans caused
prices for Canadian cattle to collapse, resulting in severe financial
losses for ranchers.
Under the new system, which won't take effect until after
consultation with industry groups and details are worked out, each
country would only restrict trade within designated disease-control
zones where the animal disease breaks out. If it had been in place in
2003, the U.S. would likely only have restricted imports of beef from
Western Canada, not the entire country, Ritz said at a press conference
"The new agreement will help prevent or limit the introduction of
highly contagious foreign animal diseases from one country to the
other," he said. "At the same time, this agreement will help avoid
unnecessary trade disruptions.