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Mad cow madness


Waxaa la yaab leh in aduunka oo dhan gaar ahaana (Canada)ay ka qaylinaayaan laba xanuun oo lakala yiraahdo MAD COW AND SARS. Labadaan xanuun soomaaliya waa laga heli jiray mid lo’da ayuu ku dhici jiray oo waali jiray, kadib waa la qalan jiray oo hilinkiisa la cuni jiray (that’s why u see lot of Somalis who are experiencing Mad Cow sydroms) sidoo kale SARS ama waxa aan u Soomaaliya uga aqoon jirnay SAAR wuxuu ku dhici jiray Islaamaha Soomaalida, laakiin umay dhiman jirin, xanuunsan jirin balse waxay ka qaadi jireen fudayd iyo inay break dance ku dheelaan meelaha SAARKA lagu tumo, (in other words it was like Somali Senior night club). Hadaba, we Somalis have a lot to offer to our Canadian neighbors who are experiencing this new and threatening health problems. Aaway reer Barigii SAARKA tumi jiray !!!!!!!





Picking his wife up at the airport in Calgary just two days after the revelation that a Canadian cow had tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), Jack Daines sure was surprised when he came upon the full-color photo of his livestock auction yard splashed across the front page of a national newspaper. The shot seemed to be accompanying a foreboding headline, one that worried about the economic fallout that awaited Canada in the wake of the discovery of a single mad cow infection (BSE's more colloquial name). Funny, says Daines, because the reality in southern Alberta, the heartland of Canadian beef production, and at his Innisfail Auction Market, is business as usual. "All the media are calling me, and they want me to say we're all sitting around bawling," says Daines. "The rural people that live in the agricultural sector, it didn't even faze them. Feeder cattle, bulls that I couldn't get $1,500 for a week ago, were getting $1,800 to $2,000 on Wednesday. Mad cow did not affect our sale one bit. It's a nothing deal to the people that are actually close to the thing." But with the American market now shut--the ultimate destination of more than 60% of Albertan beef--the cattle headed for feedlots and not the slaughter are the hotter item at Daines' auction these days: they won't be table-ready 'til sometime in the fall, and bidders are betting things will be back to normal by then.

Alberta Premier Ralph Klein has assured his constituents, who comprise 70% of feed cattle production, that the bans now in place in the US, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia and New Zealand will likely be lifted in less than two weeks, a prediction even Daines calls overly optimistic. And the repercussions are likely to linger much longer than that. Never mind the terrifying example of Britain, where the $6.5-billion industry all but collapsed after a BSE epidemic in the late-'90s, with sales plummeting 70% and 20 countries banning British beef. There's almost no chance Canada is facing an epidemic of that proportion. But even with minor incidences, the aftershocks can be disastrous: in 2001, McDonald's suffered an 80% drop in profits in Japan, with only seven recorded cases of BSE. Sales have yet to recover.

Meanwhile, retailers of Canadian beef will be forced to find alternative sources in the short term. "If it goes on too long, it will jeopardize our market share," says Dave Chatters, MP for Athabasca and a former cattle rancher, "because the US market will bring in beef from other places to replace the Canadian beef."

While the animal production industry accounts for 0.4% of Canada's GDP, the ripple effects of BSE could be substantial. The Alberta Beef Producers estimates the industry, directly and indirectly, contributes a total of $15 billion to the economy. The beef cattle industry in this country accounts for almost 400,000 jobs, and within days of the US ban one abattoir in Guelph, Ont., announced it was laying off 75 workers. Canada is a world leader in the sale of breeding cattle, bull semen and embryos worldwide. At this very moment, due to China's ban on Canadian genetic cattle products, $20 million in orders for genetic product is at risk, says Herb McLane, executive vice-president of the Canadian Beef Breeds Council. Canadian tourism, already reeling from SARS and weakened by a falling US dollar, will suffer too, as it did in Britain, where scares like BSE and foot and mouth disease sank tourism as much as 20% in 2001.

Canada is still dealing with the economic fallout from the last time this happened, says McLane. That was in 1993, when, much like this incident, one cow in Red Deer was diagnosed with BSE. The animal was an import from the UK, so Canadian officials were able to fairly say the problem was not a domestic one--BSE is not thought to be contagious. And that was before scientists had made a link between human consumption of infected beef and the risk of contracting variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a lethal brain-wasting illness that has killed roughly 134 people worldwide. That didn't stop the European Union from banning Canadian cattle--permanently. "We've never been able to restore fully our exports of cattle back to the EU," says McLane. "We did for a few years, and then the Europeans came out a few years ago with what they deemed a BSE risk assessment and canceled the importation of all Canadian and US cattle and embryos."

It's probably a safe bet that, like virtually all European agricultural policies, that decision was heavily influenced by economic nationalism. But that may be one of the big unseen threats of the current cock-up: it puts Canada at the mercy of its markets and provides a convenient pretext for foreign farmers to hobble an increasingly dominant competitor that has, even recently, had an advantage in an attractive exchange rate. In 2001, while US market share of beef exports to Asia and Mexico declined 6.4%, Canada's grew 4.4%. This country is now the third-biggest beef exporter in the world, behind the US and Australia. It was little surprise then when Aussie agricultural minister Warren Truss told reporters in May that the Albertan find could "open up marketing opportunities for Australia."

Canada itself has been blamed for mixing mad cow with politics. In 2001, the Liberal government was accused of unjustly banning beef imports from Brazil following their delay in providing documentation on animals imported from Europe. Only after Brazil--convinced the embargo was an economic cheap shot driven by an ongoing trade dispute between Bombardier and its own aircraft manufacturer Embraer--threatened all-out trade war did Canada agree to lift its barrier after three weeks.

As it is, the US market is already feeling a lot less warm to Canadian goods than usual. The Bush administration has shown itself to be less committed to free trade than its neo-conservative credentials might otherwise suggest. From softwood lumber to Canadian wheat, Canucks have had plenty of obstacles, thanks to the White House's willingness to bend to lobby groups. The US is already implementing its controversial "country-of-origin" legislation, drafted as part of last year's farm bill and scheduled to become law in 2004. It will force meatpackers to clearly label the origin of all beef products at the supermarket, ostensibly because some American shoppers would prefer to buy local. And while Canadian ranchers are virtually subservient to US buyers, the Americans can probably get by just fine without us, since our meat comprises only 5% of US consumption. Our own government's churlishness toward the Bush administration over Iraq, meanwhile, may have ruined any hope of winning special breaks from our biggest export market.

But some pretty major US-based packers have big operations in Alberta, and you can bet they'll be bending over backward to help us get those borders open again. In the end, acrobatics may be what's called for. Realistically, everyone in the know would admit that, much like Canada's run-in with SARS, the mad cow plague is more an incredible stroke of bad luck than the result of a vigilance gap with the US. Ruminant-to-ruminant feeding (a dainty name for feeding animal remains to cattle for protein, once widely practised in the UK and widely blamed for the BSE outbreak there) has never been popular here or in the US, due to the availability of cheap grazing land and grain feed. Health Canada's regimens for beef inspection exceed World Health Organization standards, but both Canada and the US test only a tiny fraction of their cattle populations for BSE. (Since 1993, Canada has checked 10,000 cows out of a population of more than 13 million.) "We consider both countries to be inadequate," says Jean Halloran, director of the Consumer Policy Institute, an advocacy group in Yonkers, NY. The only way to ensure safe beef, she argues, is to follow the European model of testing every cow at slaughter after it reaches a certain age--something that has rooted out a lot more BSE cases than were initially suspected. "Of course, that occasioned a new round of concern from consumers," she says. "But that's the price of long-term security."

Halloran may get her wish if domestic producers hope to convince beef importers it's safe to buy Canadian again. And that's assuming the problem gets no bigger than it already is, with just one cow infected out of more than three million processed annually. Americans are in an extremely defensive mood these days, but they readily put their herds on Orange Alert whenever the slightest threat of BSE is raised: a few years ago, more than 1,200 Texas cattle were quarantined and 22 tonnes of feed recalled after it was discovered that one bag of illegal feed supplement, with processed cow-meal ingredient, had found its way into the state. But the cost of assuaging heightened US fears with additional testing and tracking procedures stands to take a big bite out of profit margins. In Britain, farmers pay as much as £100 per cow for regular inspections. That could eliminate the last of any low-dollar advantage, already threatened by an elevated loonie. For that matter, the tarnished reputation of the safety of our meat products, already being served up in the form of late-night zingers by American talk-show hosts, is virtually guaranteed to translate into wider support for the country-of-origin initiative. The additional tracking efforts that the program will demand will add US$50 or so to each head of Canadian cattle exported to the US, as slaughterers and retailers are forced to segregate cattle by nationality and lower their bids to cover extra costs. Less than 48 hours after Canada's BSE announcement, National Farmers Union lobbyists and R-CALF USA, a Montana cattle association, issued statements arguing that Canada's bad news was proof the labeling regulations were more imperative than ever.

It's questionable whether one cow, diagnosed before it even reached the food chain, is worthy of such a histrionic response. And indeed, there are differing opinions on when and how the blockades facing Canadian beef products will fall, though everyone agrees that the sooner they do, the better. For Daines, the fate of Alberta's cattle industry has more to do with how long the newspapers remain stuck in a slow news cycle. "The only other news out there right now is that there's a woman trying to golf in the men's PGA," he says. "They'll beat this thing to death."

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"sidoo kale SARS ama waxa aan u Soomaaliya uga aqoon jirnay SAAR wuxuu ku dhici jiray Islaamaha Soomaalida, laakiin umay dhiman jirin, xanuunsan jirin balse waxay ka qaadi jireen fudayd iyo inay break dance ku dheelaan meelaha SAARKA lagu tumo, (in other words it was like Somali Senior night club)."


LooooooooooooooooooooooooooooL SAAR. lol man this is so funny. hahaha.. waa runtaa sxb.. we have alot to offer. lol

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