Amanda Stephenson,Leah Hennel, Calgary Herald
Three more countries have banned Canadian beef imports in response to this country’s newest BSE case, bringing the total tally of new border closures to five.
In the past three days, Taiwan, Belarus and Peru have announced restrictions on Canadian beef in light of a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy discovered earlier this month on a farm near Spruce Grove. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed last week that the cow was born in March 2009 — 21 months after the Canadian government implemented an enhanced feed ban aimed at preventing the spread of the disease.
The actions of the three latest countries come on the heels of decisions by South Korea and Indonesia, both of which moved last week to halt imports of Canadian beef and beef products. On Monday, John Masswohl — director of government and international relations for the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association — said the industry group was disappointed to see more nations take reactive measures.
“In the first week or so it looked like it was going to be calm, with countries doing what they’re supposed to do. But now there’s a couple of dominoes coming down here,” Masswohl said.
Canada exports a negligible amount of beef to Peru and Belarus, Masswohl said. But Taiwan, South Korea and Indonesia are more significant, accounting for about $70 million in Canadian beef exports annually.
“That’s still small in terms of our overall mix, but it’s disturbing in that they’re important markets, valuable customers, and we want to have them all,” he said.
Masswohl said Taiwan’s decision is particularly frustrating, since the country has imposed a blanket ban with no indication of when trade might resume. Peru, on the other hand, has said its suspension of trade is a temporary 180-day precaution, while South Korea is following a protocol that allows it to temporarily block import clearances until the safety of the supply chain has been proven.