Iowa Beef Center director John Lawrence says the discovery of what may be the first case of Mad Cow Disease in the U-S probably won’t have the same impact here as it did recently when the disease was found in Canada. Lawrence says Canada exported about half the beef and cattle it produced, while the U-S exports only about 10 percent. Lawrence says the U-S also imports about 10 percent of our beef. Lawrence says when the Canadian borders were closed following the discovery of Mad Cow Disease, it had a “dramatic” effect on the industry. While he expects some impact here, Lawrence doesn’t expect the news to devastate the American cattle industry. Lawrence says for the first week after Mad Cow was discovered in Canada, there was no cattle market. Lawrence says buyers didn’t know what to bid and sellers didn’t know what to expect. The cattle market declined about 25 percent, initially, and then three weeks later took another tumble when Canadian officials announced an assistance package for farmers. Lawrence says there’s a “built-in cooling off period” since — because of Christmas — there’ll be little activity in the market for the remainder of the week, so it will be Monday before there’s a real reading of how the markets will react. He says restaurants and retailers are going to take a wait-and-see-attitude on purchases, waiting to see how consumer react. Lawrence is an Iowa State Univeristy livestock economist and professor.
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