Truckloads of Canadian cattle may soon be rolling across the border into the U.S., and the president of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association will be glad to see it. A federal appeals court has lifted a ban on cattle imported from our neighbor to the north, and Farmer Bill Scheitler says after a court injunction blocked USDA’s decision last spring to resume imports, many people don’t understand just what’s been banned and what hasn’t. “We’ve been importing boxed beef from Canada all this time,” Scheitler says. Only the importing of live animals has been blocked, so now he says some meat will be “coming into this country ion the hoof,” to be processed in facilities here rather than the harvesting facilities in Canada. Scheitler confirms that by “harvesting facilities,” he means meatpacking plants. Slaughterhouse operations have laid off workers and even closed temporarily in the past year, citing a lack of sufficient cattle to keep shifts operating. Smaller packers especially have closed and had difficult times, he says, charging that the packing industry in Canada’s been expanding and adding employees. Scheitler says beef has always been safe in this country, despite a second case of Mad Cow detected in the last two years. Scheitler praises consumers, saying they’re well-educated and believe in the food-safety system. He notes the animal from Texas recently confirmed to have had Mad Cow Disease had been tested last November. “It never got into the food supply,” Scheitler says. “It never even got into the PET food supply.” Scheitler, who runs a cow-calf operation near LeMars, is not concerned Iowa farmers will see beef prices fall from their record high levels. While he says there might be some psychological effect on the market, “It should not affect our prices longterm at all.” Though the applecarts ruling didn’t stipulate how soon Canadian cattle imports could resume, it could be as soon as this week.
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