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CHICAGO - U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said on Friday that the United States would ease a two-month-old ban on Canadian beef, a move that could add to supplies here and pull down high U.S. beef prices.
An accompanying announcement that Washington and Tokyo have reached a deal that will keep U.S. beef exports flowing to Japan may prevent a significant drop in prices, Reuters reports.
The United States will allow in about 40 percent of the beef that Canada had normally shipped here, Veneman announced. The allowed meat, which includes boneless beef from cows under 30 months old, will have a low risk of being infected with mad cow disease.
Canadian beef and cattle have been banned in the United States since May 20 after a single case of mad cow disease was discovered there. The U.S. will maintain the ban on Canadian cattle, but will consider allowing the import of some animals in the future.
U.S. beef prices are high now largely because of the Canadian ban, but also because production here is down at a time when demand, both domestically and in the export markets, has been strong, according to Reuters.