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Providing for Congressional Disapproval of the Rule Submitted by the Department of Agriculture

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Location: Washington, DC


PROVIDING FOR CONGRESSIONAL DISAPPROVAL OF THE RULE SUBMITTED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE RELATING TO RISK ZONES FOR INTRODUCTION OF BOVINE SPONGIFORM ENCEPHALOPATHY -- (Senate - March 03, 2005)

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Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, it is not often that persons speaking on the opposing side of the issue on the floor yield time to someone who might disagree with them. So I am thankful to the chairman of the Agriculture Committee, Senator Chambliss, for being so accommodating.

Yesterday, a judge in Montana said there remains a question of concern as it relates to the science that we hope is well underway in Canada. You have certainly heard my colleagues from Montana and others argue that is a legitimate concern. Senator Conrad has made that point time and time again. It is fair for us to err on the side of science. That is where we ought to be. That is where our industry is. That is where we ought to demand of the Canadian industry.

Our industry people have been north of the border and they have seen the tremendous progress that has been made. Our Secretary of Agriculture has recognized that progress and, in part, premised his rule on that basis. At the same time, I am one of those who remains skeptical. I think we have to ensure that we cannot take another hit in our agricultural economy. In 2003, May, Canada, boom. And then in December, along came the cow in the lower 48 that stole Christmas. She wasn't green, she was black and white and she pulled the rug out from under the industry just for a moment in time.

Our Secretary of Agriculture effectively stepped in and talked our industry and the consuming public into stability again. Why? Because the cow had come from Canada. We have had our act together in the lower 48 for a good long while, prohibiting the incorporation of animal protein into the feed supply. We have played by the rules, and they have been sustainable, scientific rules, which has assured the American consumer safe, high-quality beef.

But when Canada sneezed and we got the cold, our trading partners backed away. In that backing away, we lost a billion-dollar Japanese market. I have been one saying to my industry in Idaho that I am going to work to force the Canadians to get their act together, while at the same time we are going to assure that we open the Japanese market. Our President has put pressure openly and personally on the Japanese, as has our Vice President and Secretary of State. It is unique and unusual, but it demonstrates the importance of the livestock and cattle industry to this administration and to our country for them to say to the Japanese: Get your act together. We are clean; you know it; you see our science. We are doing the right thing.

Yet the Japanese push back. I cannot in good conscience open a border that brings greater numbers to the lower 48 when the science remains questionable and we have not resumed the Pacific rim markets that are extremely valuable to the livestock industry.

The new Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary Johanns, has been to the Hill. We have talked with him. He is doing the right things. We sent a letter to him in opposition. He backed away for a time. He is pushing the science, and he will continue to do so. But I do believe that a March 7 implementation is premature.

I trust that the judge looking at the evidence in Montana yesterday has the same concerns that are being reflected by the Senator from North Dakota and certainly by this Senator and many of us firsthand.

Actions do produce reactions. There are consequences to our action. The Senator from Colorado has been concerned about the displacement of the packing industry and what it will do, and it is having an impact. I am tremendously concerned that if we do not continue this aggressive pressure, we could lose capacity in the lower 48 as the Canadian industry begins to extend its ability into packing of their livestock products.

Today, in good conscience, I cannot nor will I oppose S.J. Res. 4. I believe we are sending an extremely valuable message to all of the markets involved, including the Canadians. The Canadians do not get it. They see NAFTA as a one-way road. We have been fighting them for 4 years on timber. They do not get it.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator has used the 5 minutes yielded to him.

Mr. CONRAD. I yield an additional minute.

The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. GRAHAM). The Senator from Idaho is recognized for an additional minute.

Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, I appreciate that.

The Canadians do not get it in timber and are still rope-a-doping us. The Senator from Montana is in the Chamber. He and I have partnered in trying to get them to get their act together on timber. They do not play the game well when it is one-way traffic. They are doing the same thing in potatoes, and my potato farmers in Idaho are understanding the consequence of losing markets.

Those are the real problems. To our Canadian friends: Listen up. Get your act together in Canada. Play by the rules in NAFTA and resume and remain the good friends and trading partners we have always been. But we will not dislocate economies in the lower 48 for the benefit of economic gain in Canada. That is not equality, and that is not the fair trade that we are looking at.

Let's make sure the science is right. We cannot allow another hit on the livestock industry of the lower 48.

I yield the floor.

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