The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association gave Canada a clean bill of health, after a fact-finding mission to Canada in mid-January. The purpose of the trip was to examine feed procedures, livestock inventory, border procedures and the like in the wake of the discovery of two new cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in late 2004 and early 2005.

The mission found that the Canadian feed industry appears to be in compliance with the 1997 ban on ruminant material included in feed for ruminants. The mission also found that the Canadian explanation of the death of an animal which was born after the ban on ruminant feed was put in place, that it must have ingested feed or supplements left over from pre-ban days, seemed likely.

However, not all favor opening the border to Canadian beef and cattle. R-CALF USA has filed a motion in U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, asking that it grant a preliminary injunction against USDA concerning the agency’s rule to reopen the Canadian border to the import of live cattle and beef products.

No doubt, the latest BSE case didn’t do anything to speed up the opening of the Canadian border and it has become a hot-button political issue for the beef industry. It also has a secondary effect on pork, as opening the border to Canadian beef may mean less Canadian pork comes to the United States. In some cases, Canadian beef could boost the beef supply in the United States and lower the price of beef, making it more competitive with pork. Still, removing trade barriers will be a benefit to U.S. pork and beef in the long-run.