December 31, 2003

 

No Rebound Expected For US Beef Exports In 2004

 

The U.S. beef industry will likely not see its export market bounce back in 2004, said a Purdue University agricultural economist and international trade expert.

 

Additionally, a national cattle identification program would help combat the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad-cow disease, according to an animal disease expert at Purdue.

 

Purdue agricultural economist Philip Paarlberg said he doesn't expect U.S. beef export levels to return at all in 2004.

 

"The U.S. beef export market lost to mad cow disease won't come back any time soon," Paarlberg, an international trade expert, said. "We are going to have to assure our trading partners that the beef supply is safe, and that will take time. The mad-cow trade restrictions the United States imposed on Canada on May 20 remained rigid until Aug. 8, and even then the restrictions were only partially eased.

 

"In the world's view, it's a North American beef market, not two separate countries," Paarlberg said.

 

CATTLE ID SYSTEM NECESSARY

 

Leon Thacker, Purdue veterinary pathologist and director of the Indiana Animal Disease Laboratory, said a national cattle identification system is necessary so state and federal authorities can pinpoint the origin of animals. This would allow the farm and geographic origin of animals to be traced when necessary, whether for disease or any other reason.

 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has established federal requirements for meat inspection. States may have their own regulations for meat inspection, but federal law requires they be at least as stringent as USDA standards. However, almost half of the states currently don't have their own inspection agencies.

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