Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), and John Thune (R-SD) have asked USDA Secretary Mike Johanns to withdraw USDA's proposed rule to allow for the importation of Canadian cattle born after March 1, 1999 and beef from animals over 30 months.

The Senators said, "Consumers in foreign countries shouldn't be the only ones receiving assurances from the U.S. government about the origin of their beef. Surely American consumers deserve the same assurances from USDA that overseas consumers receive. If you will not withdraw your proposal to expand Canadian beef imports, then at the very least it should be postponed until USDA can fully implement mandatory Country-of-Origin labeling, as directed in the 2002 Farm Bill. Before American beef is commingled with beef from a country that discovered five cases of BSE last year, American consumers should be given basic tools with which to distinguish American beef from Canadian."

-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent