Baucus Requests Appointment of "Special Envoy" to Reopen Int'l Borders to U.S. Beef
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) In order to help protect America's beef market in the wake of the recent discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a single dairy cow late last month, U.S. Senator Max Baucus recently contacted Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman to push for reopening international trade borders to American beef as soon as possible.
In a letter to Veneman, Baucus cited the recent DNA findings proving the Canadianorigin of the infected cow, which means that the U.S. should be considered BSE- free, dependant upon the health of the infected cow's offspring. Baucus requested that Veneman appoint a"special, high- level envoy" responsible for negotiating directly with trading partners around theworld to eliminate import trade bans against U.S. beef.
"The strength of the beef industry is vital in my state of Montana and in ruralcommunities around our nation," Baucus said. "This week's DNA confirmation that the cowfound to have BSE was from Canadian origins should help to restore confidence in the beefmarket and should reopen international trade borders to our beef as soon as possible. With everyday that goes by with the trade doors closed, our producers are facing losses of millions ofdollars. We must take action."
Baucus was joined by a bipartisan group of 13 Senators in sending the letter. Full text ofletter attached:
January 7, 2004
The Honorable Ann VenemanSecretaryU.S. Department of Agriculture1400 Independence Avenue SWWashington, D.C. 20250-0003
Dear Secretary Veneman:
Thank you for your hard work and dedication in response to the recent discovery ofbovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a single dairy cow late last month. Your hard workis helping to restore consumer confidence in the safety of the U.S. food supply. Unfortunately,in the wake of this discovery, more than 40 countries – including most of our largest exportmarkets – have imposed bans on the importation of U.S. beef products. It is difficult to overstatethe danger that the loss of these markets poses to an industry worth $175 billion to ourconstituents.
Swift and vigilant action is needed to minimize this loss and to ensure a re-opening oftrade at the earliest possible juncture. Accordingly, we ask that you make re-opening borders toAmerican beef a top priority by appointing a special, high- level envoy who will maintain apersistent and productive dialogue with each of these countries, and with any other country thatis considering imposing a similar ban. A special envoy empowered by you to negotiate directlywith trading partners around the world will send a strong signal that the U.S. is committed toworking in a science-based manner to re-open trade.
Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that DNA tests confirm theCanadian origin of the infected cow. Importantly, this means that the U.S. should be consideredBSE- free, according to the standards of the International Office of Epizootics (OIE), to which165 countries – including nearly all of those who have imposed import bans – are signatories,provided the calves born to this cow within the past two years have been slaughtered. The OIEstandards represent a global consensus of scientific opinion. Indeed, the Agreement on theApplication of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures encourages all WTO members toharmonize their own SPS regimes to OIE standards, in the pursuit of a common internationalstandard.
The beef industry is a pivotal economic component of many rural communities, and weknow the U.S. has the safest food supply in the world. That’s why we must do all we can toensure stability in the market, which includes re-opening these borders as soon as possible.A special envoy, authorized by you to work tirelessly towards the termination of importbans against U.S. beef, will be dedicated to full and cons tant communication with our tradingpartners, as well as with all other federal agencies, to bring stability to an industry that isessential to the health of the U.S. rural economy.
Thank you in advance for your immediate consideration of this request.
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