White House clears way for BSE rule

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) cleared the way for a comprehensive rule for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), which has been a work in progress since 2004.

The proposed rule would reportedly level the playing field for U.S. beef in the global marketplace by appropriately addressing risk related to BSE. According to National

Cattlemen’s Beef Association Associate Director of Legislative Affairs Kent Bacus, the lack of a comprehensive rule has harmed U.S. beef trade. He said having a comprehensive BSE rule in place will show the United States is willing to talk the talk and walk the walk with regard to following standards developed by the International Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

“It is very difficult for the United States to demand our trading partners follow OIE standards when we are not here at home. The comprehensive BSE rule will change that and will solidify the United States’ commitment to basing our trade relationships on internationally-recognized, sciencebased standards,” Bacus said. “This rule has been a long time coming, and we stand ready to work with members of Congress and the administration to finalize this rule.”

The OMB decision is subsequent to a letter sent last month to OMB and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service from a bipartisan group of 31 U.S senators urging the agencies to finalize a comprehensive rule. The letter was led by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).

The senators said non-science based standards have resulted U.S. beef producers losing $100 million annually in beef trade to Mexico alone.

The proposed rule is now cleared for USDA to publish the rule in the Federal Register and begin accepting comments. Bacus said NCBA will be submitting comments in support of this rule on behalf of its membership.

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