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MONTANA (Beef) Stock Growers

The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) asked USDA on December 30th, 2003 to immediately and indefinitely suspend any further consideration of rules to allow cattle or beef products to enter the U.S. from Canada. USDA's announcement that a Washington state dairy cow infected with BSE likely originated in Alberta, Canada, prompted the request. MSBA is asking for the suspension until the investigation of this latest BSE incident is concluded. "We continue to support the principle that decisions regarding the border be based on sound science. But with this likely second case (of BSE) in Canada, it's time for USDA to step up and represent and protect the U.S. livestock industry," says John Swanz, a rancher from Judith Gap and MSGA president. The movement of beef products and live cattle south from Canada was suspended May 20 when Canada's first case of BSE was discovered. Since September, boxed beef certified to be whole-muscle cuts from animals less than 30 months of age have been allowed from Canada. USDA has since developed proposed rules to expand imports of beef products and live cattle from that country. In a letter sent yesterday to USDA Secretary Veneman, Swanz said that, until the results of the current BSE investigation are known in full, the border must remain closed. Currently, comments to the USDA on reopening the border with Canada to expanded live cattle and beef trade are due Jan. 5, 2004. Meanwhile, the Dec. 30 livestock sale scheduled at Montana Livestock Co. in Ramsay was cancelled says Craig Britton, manager. A Jan. 2 sale is scheduled for Public Auction Yards in Billings, while the Billings Livestock Commission Co. has one set for Jan. 5. -- Clint Peck

How I wish I were in Montana!