Mexico says it will open its borders to the full range of Canadian beef effective Oct. 1, removing one of the last restrictions that were imposed after BSE was found in Canada in 2003.
The announcement was made today by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto in a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa.
Mexico closed its borders to all Canadian beef in May 2003 but reopened later that year to beef from cattle under 30 months of age. It stayed closed to beef from cattle older than 30 months and to some types of beef offal.
However, Mexico has been Canada’s third largest beef export market for the past three years, averaging a value of $136 million annually.
Dan Darling, president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, said the move could encourage Canadian producers to expand their herds because of the confidence boost this gives to the international reputation of Canadian beef.
“When our production increases to previous levels, I believe that Mexico could again import more than $250 million per year like it used to,” said Darling in a CCA news release.
Statistics indicate Canada exported 77,887 tonnes of beef to Mexico in 2002, which dropped to 29,442 in 2003. In 2015, Canada exported 19,418 tonnes to Mexico with a value of about $156 million.
Darling said Mexico’s timing for full acceptance of Canadian beef in October coincides with the time that beef producers traditionally take mature cows to market, so there will be opportunity to sell beef from those older animals.
“Mexico has traditionally been an excellent market for Canadian beef,” said Darling in the news release.
“In addition to expanded access for OTM (over 30 month) beef, we look forward to potential future opportunities that today’s announcement of fully restored access for Canada for all beef and beef products, regardless of the age of the cattle, will bring.”