Cablegate: Mad Cows and the Maritimes

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Although the BSE crisis has had less of an impact in
Maritime Canada than in the west, the fallout from mad cow
disease has been significant in this region, too. Prior to the
BSE discovery Maritime provinces sold live cattle and beef
across the border to the U.S., but more importantly raised
cattle which were sold to fill out herds in Ontario and further
west. Since live cattle have stopped moving across the border,
overall demand for Maritime beef and dairy cattle has dropped

2. In Nova Scotia, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Chris
D'Entrement recently asked CG to relay to Washington the parlous
state of cattle ranchers in the province and to urge a speedy
resumption in cross-border trade. He noted that while the
industry was not huge by Canadian or U.S. standards, for a less
well-to-do province like Nova Scotia it made a big contribution
to the agriculture sector and to employment. Premier John Hamm
announced that the province was going to launch a marketing
campaign ("Brand Nova Scotia") to encourage consumers to buy
local beef. He also said that the provincial government, which
serves 23,000 meals a day in various institutions, would seek to
buy home-grown beef to meet its needs.

3. In Prince Edward Island, where the economy is heavily
dependent on agriculture, both Premier Pat Binns and deputy
opposition leader Richard Brown made a point of telling CG that
their beef industry was suffering as well, and urged a speedy
resumption of cross-border trade. Both drew parallels to U.S.
restrictions several years ago on imports of PEI potatoes. MP
Wayne Easter has taken the issue a step further, calling
restrictions on beef trade "economic violence" and saying that
Canada ought to "play hardball" with the U.S. to get the border
re-opened for beef and cattle.

4. COMMENT: In responding to these and other questions about
BSE-related restrictions on beef and cattle trade, we have made
the point that it is in everyone's interest to have a
science-based system that maintains public confidence in the
integrity of the food supply. Most of our interlocutors -- with
the possible exception of Easter -- agree in principle that that
is the right approach. They just wish that things could move
faster. END COMMENT.


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