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Cattle trucks set to roll

CALGARY, Alta. -- The U.S. has lifted its ban on live Canadian cattle after more than two years.

CALGARY, Alta. — The U.S. has lifted its ban on live Canadian cattle after more than two years.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Michael Johanns made the announcement yesterday, following the decision of a federal appeals court dismissing an argument that imports could spread BSE. The U.S. discovered its own case of BSE just last month and it was not traced back to Canada.

“Because the ruling is effective immediately, we are immediately taking steps to resume the importation of cattle under 30 months of age from Canada,” he said.

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association announced it hopes to get the trucks rolling as soon as next week.

“Positive news like this has not been part of our event to date and I hardly know how to be positive anymore,” CCA president Stan Eby told local media. “But certainly, we’re very pleased … and I know that, as we speak, American and Canadian officials are comparing notes and setting up the guidelines for the import of Canadian cattle, and I know that tonight there are producers getting ready to start shipping their cattle.”

“I don’t expect the trucks will start to roll tomorrow,” Manitoba Agriculture Minister Rosann Wowchuk told reporters yesterday, adding some key details must still be worked out.

U.S. protectionist group R-CALF was aiming to permanently ban the import of live Canadian cattle an attempt that was thwarted by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday.

The ruling allows young Canadian cattle to be shipped to the U.S. The Canadian cattle industry has been decimated by the ban and cattle organizations estimate it has cost the industry $7 billion. Meanwhile, south of the border, U.S. packing plants have also suffered and have been forced to lay off up to 8,000 people thanks to the loss of business. Canadian packing plants don’t have the capacity to process all of Canada’s cattle.

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