Mexico eases restrictions on Canadian sheep, goat meat

Chilled and frozen sheep and goat meat from animals of any age may now be exported to Mexico after years of being banned.

Since 2003, only lamb from animals younger than 12 months was allowed.

Canada does not export much lamb or mutton because of low domestic supplies, but processors requested export certificates as they looked for new markets to sell offal and mutton to Mexico.

Corlena Patterson of the Canadian Sheep Federation said most restrictions are related to scrapie, a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy disease that does not affect meat and is not a risk to human health.

“Every country has a different requirement and every country has a different level of risk assessment,” she said.

Mutton is a popular meat in Mexico, and demand for Canadian product has the potential to grow to $12.5 million.

Total mutton exports were $800,000 last year.

The most recent data from Statistic Canada shows that Canada imported more than 17 million kilograms of lamb and mutton last year, mostly from New Zealand and Australia.

Canada exported 39,800 kg last year, down from more than 57,000 kg in 2012.

The last national livestock census, which was released in August, said the flock had dropped by one percent to  893,000 sheep and lambs on 10,111 farms.

Canadian sheep production is mostly located in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta. Farm cash receipts for sheep and lambs were $117.8 million, .2 percent of total farm receipts.

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