Ontario shows support for beef industry

Archived Release

Ontario shows support for beef industry

GUELPH, ON, Dec. 31 - The McGuinty government has expressed its support for Ontario's beef industry, currently dealing with the effects of a confirmed case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in Washington state. "BSE is casting a big shadow over all of us but it will not deter us from continuing to lobby strenuously for our farmers," Minister of Agriculture and Food Steve Peters said at a meeting with representatives of more than 25 agri-food organizations today. "Today, I am meeting with industry leaders to gather their perspective and comments on the situation so that I can convey Ontario's position on trade and BSE management to our federal counterparts and our U.S. trading partners." Peters expressed his support for Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Bob Speller, who is working closely with the U.S. on the management of BSE in the context of an integrated North American market. Peters pointed out that the provincial government and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) continue to be in regular contact regarding ongoing developments in the BSE case. CFIA officials were at the meeting to provide an information update to producer organizations. Peters emphasized that while the CFIA is the agency responsible for tracking the movement of livestock and meat products that cross the border, the governments of both Ontario and Canada have strong safety measures in place to minimize the risks and spread of BSE. Measures include mandatory inspection at slaughter, a ban on the use of rendered ruminant material as ruminant feed and the removal of all specified risk materials from carcasses at slaughter. "We're in this together, and we must work together to resolve this serious situation as quickly as possible," Peters said. "Our beef industry is an extremely important contributor to our communities and the entire provincial economy." Recent testing has shown that there is no evidence of BSE in Ontario. Between March 2002 and the end of November, 2003, more than 2,300 samples were tested and all were negative for BSE. Disponible en fran├žais www.OMAF.gov.on.ca Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food Stakeholders Meeting BSE December 31, 2003 Guelph, Ontario Invitees -------- Alliance of Ontario Food Producers Atwood Pet Food Better Beef Limited Canadian Bankers Association Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors Canadian Livestock Genetics Association Christian Farmers' Federation of Ontario Dairy Farmers of Ontario Food and Consumer Products Manufacturers of Canada Livestock Dealers' Association Mennonite Savings and Credit Union Ontario Agri-Business Association Ontario Cattle Feeders' Association Ontario Cattlemen's Association Ontario Egg Producers Ontario Federation of Agriculture Ontario Goat Breeders' Association Ontario Independent Meat Processors Ontario Livestock Auction Market Association Ontario Livestock Carriers' Coalition Ontario Pork Producers' Marketing Board Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency Ontario Veal AssociationFor further information: Contact Adele Pelland, Communications Branch, (416) 326-3029