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Canada's beef industry welcomes Mexico lifting import ban on older cattle

Canadian Cattlemen's Association believes opening Mexican market will boost Canadian exports

Mexico's lifting of a more than decade-long ban on some cattle imports will mean a big boost to Canadian exports, said the Canadian Cattlemen's Association.

"When we get our production levels back up to where they used to be, we can be doing $250 million a year or more into the Mexican market, no problem,'' said John Masswohl, director of government and international relations at the association.

Mexico imposed a ban on Canadian beef imports in 2003 over fears of mad cow disease, and while some restrictions were lifted within a year, a ban on cattle over 30 months old is still in place.

In the two years before the ban, Canada exported around $270 million to $290 million of beef to Mexico, with cattle over 30 months of age making up close to a quarter of the total.

Meanwhile, Canadian beef exports to Mexico averaged $136 million annually between 2011 and 2015.

Masswohl said Tuesday's announcement that the Mexican government would lift the ban on Oct. 1 will mean Canada's exports to the country can rebound.

He said it also ends one of the few remaining global trade restrictions related to mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

"It's satisfying that something that you've worked on for years and years to finally be achieved,'' said Masswohl. "We've been trying to get rid of all the BSE trade restrictions in all the markets, and it's getting down to be a pretty short list of what's left now.''

He said Taiwan and China are the remaining holdouts, though China does allow some younger boneless beef imports.

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