Canada Says It Has One Mad Cow Case

(Note: Now the killing of the entire herd is called 'depopulating.')

(VERY IMPORTANT Note from John Lockie, R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America: In a shocking announcement Canadian government officials in a press conference today reported a cow in Alberta has been positively identified to be infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), also knows as Mad Cow Disease. Rumors of the case of BSE early this morning fueled a limit down crash in the cattle market. R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA), a long time supporter of mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL), is very concerned about the implications this will have on consumer confidence without the ability for consumers to choose between foreign and domestic beef. R-CALF USA President Leo McDonnell said, "This is devastating news for the U.S. cattle market. Because of NAFTA, Canada has free access to the U.S. market and their beef is not labeled for the consumer. There is currently no way for consumers to know for certain if the beef they are eating came from Canada or not." Following the press conference by Canadian Ag Minister Lyle Vanclief, USDA Ag Secretary Ann Veneman closed the U.S. border to imports of "ruminant products" from Canada until further notice.  or 406-252-2516)

May 20, 2003

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (Reuters) - Canada said on Tuesday it had found a case of mad cow disease in the western province of Alberta, but stressed that the affected animal -- the first mad cow case in a decade in Canada -- had not entered the food chain.

Agriculture Minister Lyle Vanclief said the northern Alberta herd to which the eight-year-old animal belonged had been quarantined and would be destroyed. There were 150 animals in the herd.

"The affected herd will be depopulated once the necessary samples have been obtained... Any additional herds that are found to be at risk as a result of the investigation will also be depopulated," he told a rowdy televised news conference in the Albertan city of Edmonton.

"The investigation to date indicates the animal in question was sent to a rendering plant after slaughter. I want to stress that the animal did not go into the food chain," he said.

The news, which sent the Canadian dollar sharply lower, was the second health-related problem to hit Canada after an outbreak of SARS in Toronto killed 24 people.

The United States immediately slapped a temporary ban on Canadian beef imports. Some 511,656 head of live cattle were shipped from Alberta to the United States in 2002.

The cow in question was slaughtered on Jan. 31 but was not immediately suspected of having mad cow disease. Instead, an inspector initially recommended tests for pneumonia and the mad cow disease diagnosis, confirmed by a laboratory in Britain, was not completed until earlier on Tuesday.

Vanclief and Alberta Agriculture Minister Shirley McClellan stressed that the disease could not be transferred from animal to animal and said there was no reason to stop eating beef.

It was the first case of mad cow disease in Canada since a cow that had been imported from Britain was diagnosed with the disease in December 1993.

Alberta accounts for nearly 60 percent of Canada's beef production. There are 5.5 million head of cattle in the western province. Beef cattle production is Alberta's largest agricultural sector, providing C$3.8 billion ($2.8 million) in annual farm cash receipts, Alberta Agriculture data shows.

($1.00 U.S. = $1.35 Canadian)