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Mexico lifts ban on Alta. breeding cattle

The Canadian and Mexican governments have reached an agreement to remove Mexico’s temporary ban on imports of Alberta breeding cattle.

The agreement resumes trade of all breeding cattle born after January 1999, lifting a ban imposed by the Mexican government in August upon Canada’s confirmation of its 14th case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or mad cow disease) in a six-year-old Alberta beef cow.

Canadian officials at the time didn’t expect Case 14 to affect exports of Canadian cattle or beef, though the cow was born well after Ottawa imposed its 1997 ban on the use of ruminant tissues in feed for ruminant livestock.

Officials with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) “immediately began working with Mexican officials to restore trade as quickly as possible,” CFIA said in a release Monday afternoon.

“Canadians produce some of the best breeding stock in the world and this government worked hard to open trade of Alberta breeding cattle,” Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said in the release.

Officials with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association had said in August that given Canada’s current BSE status, Mexico’s move was not justified under international animal health or trade regulations, nor under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) classifies Canada as a “controlled risk” country for BSE due to its regulations on the removal of specified risk materials (SRMs, the tissues known to harbour the proteins that cause BSE) from beef at slaughter, and to Canada’s testing regime.

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