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BSE in Alberta — a timeline
February 07, 2006

  • January 2003 — An eight-year-old cow was sent for slaughter to a provincially licensed meat facility. The animal showed signs of illness, and a provincial meat inspector condemned the carcass as unsuitable for human consumption. No meat from the animal entered the food chain.

    The head of the animal was collected and submitted routinely as part of the BSE surveillance program. The remains of the cow were sent for rendering.

  • May 16, 2003 — Preliminary routine testing by the province suggested BSE, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) was asked to test further.

  • May 18 — The preliminary test was confirmed by the CFIA.

    The farm from which the infected animal came was placed under quarantine.

    Officials begin to investigate where the cow came from, its movement between herds, and how its remains were processed.

  • May 20 — World Reference Laboratory in Weybridge, U.K, confirmed that the sample is positive for BSE (see story).

  • May 20-June 16 — Herds in Alberta, Saskatchewan and B.C. that could be connected to the infected cow are depopulated and tested for BSE. All test results are negative (see story).

  • June 9 — An international panel of scientists confirms Canada's BSE investigation is thorough and effective (see story).

  • June 12 — Training and short-term relief grants are announced for workers laid off as a direct result of BSE (see story).

  • June 18 — A federal-provincial compensation program for cattle producers is announced, with Alberta committing $100 million.

  • July 4 — The Canadian Food Inspection Agency releases its report on the BSE investigation (see story).

  • July 25 — Alberta's cattle industry is provided with $79 million in interim support as borders remain closed to Canadian cattle and beef (see story).

  • August 8 — The U.S. government announces they will partially lift a ban on Canadian beef (see story).

  • August 25 — A market adjustment program to stimulate the province's cattle marketplace begins (see story).

  • September 23 — A compensation program is introduced for bison, veal, sheep, goat, elk and deer producers also affected by BSE (see story).

  • October 9 — Two new compensation programs for cattle producers and processors are announced (see story).

  • October 24 — Two new programs are introduced to help Alberta's meat processing industry develop innovative solutions to deal with the surplus of cattle over 30 months of age (see story).

  • October 31 — The U.S. government releases proposed rules to consider opening the border to live cattle less than 30 months of age. If the rules are approved as written, 85 per cent of Alberta's cattle export trade with the U.S. will be restored (see story).

  • December 23 — The U.S. government announces a "presumptive positive" case of BSE from a cow in Washington state. The diagnosis is confirmed on December 25.

  • January 6, 2004 — American and Canadian officials announce jointly that DNA evidence shows that in all likelihood the infected cow was born in Alberta. The animal was born before the 1997 ban on feeding rendered ruminant carcasses — such as sheep, goats, cattle, deer and elk — to other ruminants (see story).

  • March 8 — The U.S. announces a second comment period on opening the border to live cattle less than 30 months of age.

  • April 7 — The comment period closed.

  • April 19 — The U.S. announces that it has removed all restrictions on the import of beef from cattle less than 30 months of age, including ground beef, processed beef products and bone-in beef.

  • April 23 — The American lobby group R-CALF files an injunction in an attempt to prevent the USDA from allowing Canadian bone-in beef, ground beef and processed beef products to enter the United States. Boneless beef shipments are unaffected.

  • May 6 — The USDA reaches an agreement with R-CALF, allowing the injunction to stay in place until the USDA publishes final rules regarding the importation of Canadian beef products.

  • August 3 — The Auditor General of Alberta releases his report on the government's BSE-related assistance programs.

  • September 10 — The province announces a six-point recovery strategy and $230 million in new BSE funds (see story).

  • November 30 — Hong Kong lifts its ban on boneless beef from animals under 30 months of age.

  • December 14 — Cuba opens its borders to beef and beef products of any age, with minor exceptions, such as mechanically separated meat, vertebral column, trimmings, and tissues derived from the head.

  • December 29 — A new federal-provincial program that will provide $8 million in support to Alberta's sheep, goat, deer, elk, reindeer and bison producers is announced (see story).

    The United States announces that it will open its borders to live cattle and bison under 30 months of age as of March 7, 2005. Other ruminants such as sheep, goats, deer, elk, llamas and alpacas will also be allowed entry. The U.S. will also allow imports of beef from cattle older than 30 months (see story).

  • December 30 — The Canadian Food Inspection Agency announces preliminary tests have produced a positive result from a 10-year-old Alberta dairy cow.

  • January 2, 2005 — The positive result is confirmed. The proposed border opening is unaffected as the U.S. continues to consider Canada as a minimal-risk region.

  • January 11 — The Canadian Food Inspection Agency announces it has deteted BSE in a six-year-old Alberta beef cow. Updates from the CFIA.

  • February 28 — The Alberta Prion Science Initiative is announced. The $38 million research program will investigate the genetics, diagnosis and treatment of diseases related to prions and other proteins. Prions are best known for their link to BSE (see story).

  • March 2 — A Federal District Court judge in Montana grants a temporary injunction preventing the proposed March 7 rule from coming into effect.

  • March 7 — An additional $37 million in funding for BSE recovery initiatives is announced (see story).

  • March 31 — Cuba reopens its border to live Canadian cattle. Canadian exporters are now able to ship live cattle, goats and sheep, meat from these animals, as well as bovine semen and embryos.

  • April 7 — An additional $2 million in marketing assistance is provided for Alberta's sheep, goat, deer, elk, reindeer and bison industries (see story).

  • May 18 — A new cattle tracking and tracing system is announced. This system will provide mandatory age verification for all young cattle slaughtered in Alberta by April 1, 2007 (see story).

  • June 24 — The U.S. confirms its second case of BSE.

  • July 9 — New Zealand opens its borders.

  • July 13 — An additional $16 million is put into the province's Six-Point BSE Recovery Plan (see release).

  • July 14 — The Ninth District Circuit Court of Appeals overturns the temporary injunction that keeps the borders closed to Canadian cattle after a United States Department of Agriculture appeal.

  • December 12 — Japan introduces measures allowing entry of Canadian beef under 21 months that meet detailed verification procedures (see release).

  • January 23, 2006 — the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirms a case of BSE in a six-year-old cross-bred cow from Alberta. It is not expected this case will affect trade with other countries (see story).

  • February 7 — Alberta opens its state-of-the-art animal disease surveillance lab, significantly increasing the province's testing capacity for BSE and other animal diseases (see story).

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