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WASHINGTON - The chairman of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee suggested on Tuesday an "interim way" to resume beef trade with Canada -- a partial opening of the border targeted at areas where meat safety is assured.
During a talk with reporters, Chairman Charles Grassley, Iowa Republican, said a partial opening of the border would assure consumer confidence. He did not suggest when trade would resume. Imports of Canadian cattle and beef have been barred since May 20, when Canada reported one case of mad cow disease.
An international panel of experts was expected to report this week on Canada's handling of the case. Canadian officials expect the panel to say their beef is safe.
Grassley said trade should resume "as soon as it can," providing safety of the meat was assured.
"I would suggest there is an interim way," he said, of initially opening the border to beef from parts of Canada assured to be free of mad cow disease.
Two U.S. meat industry sources say the Agriculture Department will begin easing the ban on Canadian beef and cattle in early July.