Almost 37,000 tons of frozen beef are loaded in trucks or stored in port terminals ready to be shipped to countries that have banned meat imports following the report last month of the first case of mad cow (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) in the United States.
"These shipments still haven't gone through Customs", said Markd Gustafson Deputy Director of Swift & Co. International Department during the annual US Western Stock Show taking place in Denver, Colorado.
The report of a first case of "mad cow" in United States, -- apparently originated in cattle imported from Canada,-- last December 23 in the state of Washington paralyzed all US beef exports, abruptly forcing prices to drop for the entire industry down to the farms.
According to Mr. Gustafson since most shipments to Asia are frozen or chilled "there's still time" for the beef industry to find a way out to the problem. However Colorado Senator Wayne Allard indicated there's growing concern that other countries might take advantage of the situation to block US beef imports and boost their own local meat industries.
"We can't let other nations block US beef imports under the disguise of the mad cow scare and have them take over our markets", said Senator Allard who underlined his concern with the European Union attempts to implement decisions to completely relegate US meat shipments.
Meantime the Bush administration imposed far stricter standards for the US beef industry in an attempt to prevent the mad cow scare from retracting domestic consumption.