Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

May 20, 2005 15:41 ET

Statement by the Honourable Andy Mitchell, Minister of Agriculture And Agri-Food

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - May 20, 2005) - Two years ago, confirmation of a single case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) changed the lives of Canadian producers, their families and the way Canada's livestock industry does business. I want to thank our Canadian producers for their tenacity and strength through this very difficult period. I would also like to recognize some of the successes the Government of Canada and the provinces, working closely with Canadian livestock industry, have achieved since May 2003.

Since May 2003, the Government of Canada has allocated over $2 billion for BSE aid to producers and BSE programs designed to reposition the livestock industry. An additional $1.6 billion has been paid to producers for the 2003 and 2004 program years under the Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilization (CAIS) Program, many of whom are livestock producers. The Government of Canada has announced financial assistance and programming to stabilize the market, reposition the industry, increase domestic slaughter capacity, expand foreign markets, market Canadian beef and beef products abroad and for research and development.

To date, Canada has had success in resuming full or partial trade in 14 countries that were closed to Canadian livestock products.

While the United States re-opened its border in 2003 to Canadian meat from younger animals, the March 2, 2005 the U.S. District Court of Montana injunction preventing the resumption of exports of live cattle and other ruminants to the U.S. remains a frustrating obstacle for our producers. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has appealed the injunction and the Government of Canada is following advice from its legal counsel and expert U.S. litigators to take all appropriate steps to protect the interests of Canada and Canadian producers in the American Court system.

In the meantime, the Canadian slaughter capacity is expanding to process more livestock in Canada and is now 30% higher than preBSE. Domestic slaughter capacity is now 4.5 million head a year, up from 3.8 million.

I want to assure all Canadians that the Government of Canada is committed to supporting our industry as it has since May 2003 and will continue to work with its partners to do everything possible to expedite the reopening of the U.S. border.

Contact Information

  • Minister Mitchell's office
    Elizabeth Whiting
    Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    Media Relations
    (613)759-7972 or 1-866-345-7972