March 08, 2005

Unintended Consequences

The USA has had a ban on live imports of Canadian beef since May 2003 because BSE was found in the herd. Recently, another case was discovered and a Montana judge upheld the continuation of the ban.

The ban is crippling the US meatpacking industry in the Pacific Northwest because they depend on Canadian cattle to make up their seasonal shortfalls. Many packing plants are down a quarter of capacity and reducing hours and staff.

So you'd think that if things were rough stateside, the Canadians must be hurting worse. But no. The ban only covers live imports. So the Canadian ranchers have been investing in meatpacking plants and sending boxed beef over the border. Because of the tight US market, US beef is expensive compared to the imports, so the Canadian market is growing.

The thing that really gets me about this is that it's almost certain that BSE is within the US herd anyway. It's just that the USA have incredibly slack oversight and testing measures and so they don't officially have a record of it.

Posted by phreq at March 8, 2005 07:50 AM | TrackBack
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