November 26, 2003



Canadian Beef Shipments To US, Mexico Seen Down In 2003


Closure of the U.S. and Mexican borders to Canadian beef due to the discovery of the Alberta cow with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad-cow disease, in May 2003 will result in shipments dropping from the 2002 level, according to an industry official.


"We believe the U.S. will take 231,000 tons of Canadian beef when the 2003 calendar year comes to a conclusion, which would be down from 373,000 in 2002," said Ted Haney, president of the Canadian Beef Export Federation. Mexico in 2003 was seen importing 51,000 tons of Canadian beef products, down from 76,000 in 2002.


As of Nov. 14 in the 2003 calendar year, Canada had shipped 196,000 tons of beef products to the U.S. and 36,000 tons to Mexico, according to figures quoted by Haney. Of that total, about 50,000 tons has been shipped to the U.S. and 5,000 to Mexico since the border reopened in early September.


Haney said the export pace "wasn't all that bad" considering the amount of time Canada was not allowed to ship any beef products to the U.S. or Mexico after the discovery of the Alberta cow with BSE.


The U.S. was the first country to open its border to select Canadian beef from cattle under 30 months old after the BSE discovery. Mexico followed closely behind.


Meanwhile, minor delays in the movement of Canadian beef products to the U.S. and Mexico are being chalked up to extra paperwork, but it is being seen as part of the new way of doing business, according to industry sources.


"If there was some serious problems, our association would have heard about it," Haney said. "If anything, the delays probably have more to do with logistics than issues surrounding actual regulations or interpretations of the new rules."


OsterDowJones reported this week that Canadian beef product shipments to the U.S. were experiencing delays due to a staffing shortage at the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection.


"There definitely were some problems related to shipping Canadian beef products to Mexico, as well as to the U.S., at first," said Robert Meijer, with Cargill Canada Ltd.'s public affairs department. "However, we have since sorted those problems out."

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