USDA Unveils BSE Rule

On Nov. 1, USDA-APHIS announced its final rule that will bring U.S. beef import regulations in line with OIE standards with regard to BSE. More details are available in this USDA news release in which Dr. John Clifford, APHIS deputy administrator and chief veterinary officer, states:

“This action will bring our BSE import regulations in line with international standards, which call for countries to base their trade policies on the actual risk of animals or products harboring the disease. Making these changes will further demonstrate to our trading partners our commitment to international standards and sound science, and we are hopeful it will help open new markets and remove remaining restrictions on U.S. products.”

The full text of the rule and a Frequently Asked Questions document are available online. The rule will take effect 90 days after its publication in the Federal Register, which is expected to happen within the next few business days.

The U.S. ban on beef from the European Union, which has been in place since 1998, has been a particularly contentious trade issue in recent years. Reaction to the USDA announcement from EU trade officials and the European meat industry has been positive. The European Commission issued the following statement in a news release:

“The European Commission welcomes the USDA rule announcement to bring the U.S. legislation in line with international standards for BSE. This will mean that EU beef and other bovine products will again be allowed for U.S. export. The U.S. market has been closed since January 1998 when the U.S. imposed a ban on EU beef on BSE grounds. The re-opening is a welcome, albeit late, step to abolish the unjustified ban and to re-establish normal trading conditions.”

TTIP negotiations to resume next week
This week U.S. and EU officials also announced that the second round of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations will be held in Brussels Nov. 11-15. This round was originally scheduled for early October but was postponed due to the U.S. government shutdown. More details are available from the USTR and European Commission websites.