Cattlemen Support Lifting of Bluetongue Restrictions
DENVER - The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) strongly supports a proposal to lift bluetongue restrictions for all classes of U.S. cattle exported to western Canada. The proposal was announced as part of a review being conducted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
“Canada’s bluetongue-related import restrictions have been a real obstacle for U.S. cattlemen for many years,” said Terry Stokes, NCBA’s chief executive officer. “NCBA and its state affiliates have worked hard to eliminate this trade barrier and ensure that our cattlemen have fair access to the Canadian market, for both feeder and breeding cattle. Bringing an end to these restrictions once and for all is a real breakthrough.”
Currently, bluetongue-related restrictions do not exist for Ontario or any of the Atlantic Provinces, but have remained in place for western Canada. CFIA has been conducting separate risk analyses on import conditions related to both bluetongue and anaplasmosis. In a consultation paper released this week, CFIA states:
“It is CFIA’s intention in reviewing the import conditions for bluetongue and anaplasmosis to consider them separately. Since an analysis has been completed for bluetongue, it is appropriate to move forward and invite stakeholder comment on the CFIA’s proposal for this disease.”
CFIA proposes to reclassify bluetongue from a reportable disease to being immediately notifiable. This means movement restrictions will no longer apply, but CFIA can still meet international reporting obligations by reporting any actual detection of bluetongue. CFIA also plans to enhance its level of bluetongue surveillance.
“CFIA’s proposal is based on sound science and takes all measures necessary to protect the herd health of both countries. That’s what NCBA and our affiliates have wanted all along, but it has taken some long and difficult negotiations to get us to this point,” said Jay Truitt, NCBA’s vice president of government affairs. “Full access to Canadian buyers is important to many of our cattlemen who produce feeder cattle as well as breeding stock. This change will make that possible, without raising any health risks or herd health issues.”
Formal comments from NCBA President Mike John will be submitted today on the bluetongue consultation paper. NCBA is also working for similar, science-based results from CFIA’s anaplasmosis risk assessment, which is still underway. CFIA says that a consultation paper on anaplasmosis is likely to be released by late spring, but the timing could depend on data yet to be provided by U.S. authorities.