The members of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association today passed an 11-point directive that ties the reopening of live cattle trade with Canada to other unresolved trade issues, such as the reopening of Japan, South Korea and  Mexico to U.S. beef.  USDA has proposed reopening the border to imports of live cattle under 30 months on March 7. 

On Friday, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns addressed the cattlemen at the Annual Convention and Trade Show and reminded them of their commitment to international trade. NCBA President Jan Lyons, a beef producer from Manhattan, Kan., told the secretary, “Our members set our policy and that decision will be communicated quite clearly.”

With today’s decision, NCBA will to work to resolve a list of conditions before trade is resumed.  These include:

  1. Prohibit the importation of cattle and beef products from cattle more than 30 months of age.
  2. Assurance that all Canadian firewalls to prevent BSE, specifically adherence to their feed ban, are functioning properly.
  3. No feeder cattle imported until agreement is reached on harmonization of animal health standards, especially bluetongue and anaplasmosis.
  4. Movement of Canadian cattle into the United States must be managed to minimize market disruptions.
  5. Fed cattle imported for immediate slaughter must be certified to be less than 30 months of age at the time of importation.
  6. Ban the use of fetal bovine serum from heifers imported for immediate slaughter.
  7. USDA grades and stamps not be allowed on any imported beef product.
  8. Feeder cattle must be branded with a “CAN,” individually identified with an ear tag, certified to be less than 30 months of age at time of slaughter, shipped in sealed trucks from the border directly to an approved feedlot, then moved directly in sealed trucks to slaughter.
  9. Feeder heifers imported into the United States from Canada must be spayed.
  10. USDA must work with our primary trading partners to ensure that expanded export access for U.S. beef is not in any way jeopardized by expanded importation of cattle and beef from Canada.
  11.   The Administration must reach an agreement to re-establish beef and beef byproduct trade with Japan, South Korea and Mexico, and apply economic sanctions if necessary.

The directive was passed unanimously by the Policy Division of the Board of Directors and upheld in the annual Membership Meeting.  The directive will be part of a mail ballot sent to all NCBA members on Feb. 17th.   Members will be asked to approve or reject all policy decisions passed at convention.  For the ballot to be valid, there must be a 20 percent return from four of NCBA’s seven regions.

Additionally, NCBA’s members passed policy that called for a more producer friendly, voluntary country of origin labeling law.  Specifically, NCBA members want self certification of origin for livestock producers; protection of personal records; simple, easy to understand country of origin retail labels; tempering of penalties during implementation; and reconciliation with existing labeling laws.

Also, new policy calls on NCBA to defeat efforts to label beef and beef products as “North American Beef” or any similar language that has the intent of grouping other country’s beef with that from the United States.