McGuinty Fights On Behalf Of Ontario Beef Farmers
Expresses Disappointment In U.S. Senate Vote, Court Decision
DETROIT, MICHIGAN -- Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty went to bat for Ontario beef farmers today, urging the United States Department of Agriculture to "take all steps necessary" to ensure the border is reopened to Canadian cattle as soon as possible.
"The border closure has brought Canadian farmers tremendous financial hardship, costing them in the neighbourhood of $7 billion," said Premier McGuinty in a major speech here.
"Obviously, we are very eager to resume trade."
Premier McGuinty praised the USDA for its decision to reopen the U.S. border to Canadian beef, but expressed disappointment in yesterday's Senate vote and a March 2 preliminary injunction by a U.S. court that temporarily stops the U.S. government from reopening the border on March 7, 2005.
"We experienced a setback two days ago and again yesterday," Premier McGuinty said.
"I urge the USDA to take all steps necessary to ensure the border is reopened to Canadian beef as soon as possible and that all decisions are based on science, which is conclusive: Canadian beef is safe."
Premier McGuinty made his comments in a speech to the Great Lakes Manufacturing Forum, which has brought together leading manufacturers, governors and government officials.
"Clearly, we're disappointed with these decisions," Premier McGuinty said.
The provincial government has supported Ontario's cattle industry with a number of key initiatives, including:
Delivering up to $410 million of federal-provincial funding for farmers and industry affected by mad cow disease -- with as much as $138.5 million coming from Ontario
Establishing a $7-million mature animal abattoir fund to expand Ontario's overall slaughter capacity for surplus mature cattle and other ruminant livestock to help reduce the backlog of these animals in the province.
"We will continue to work with other provinces and the federal government to reopen the border," Premier McGuinty said.