Update Corriente Steers!
New Rules Expected August 25th
The primary discussion among ropers this year has been the border closing or for the more informed, downgraded regulatory status for the Mexican state of Chihuahua in relation to Mexican steers moving to the U.S.. You can imagine that it is foremost in discussions among contractors concerning its impact on the roping industry this fall and possibly well into next year. Just to remind you, the increased incidence of tuberculosis in Mexican cattle caused the shutdown of roping steers back in June and more stringent export requirements to took effect on August 25th.
Starting in June of 2011 USDA had two different sets of rules, one for horned cattle and a different one for feeder cattle. While USDA prohibited the import of horned steers they continued to import thousands of feeder steers into the U.S.. This was clearly a violation or their own Uniform Methods and Rules. When the new rules took effect on August 25th the Chihuahua Corriente cattle once again are treated the same as feeder cattle and will no longer be prohibited to import into the US. However, before you think this situation is over, this does not mean the roping cattle will start crossing!
The details of their exact import requirements have not been distributed in writing but are understood to follow the 2005 UMR . The determination of herds and testing in Mexico will be overseen by the SAGARPA officials. We will do our best to hit the high points here without the regulatory double speak. Bascially the TB test requirement for Accredited Preparatory (lower status for Chihuaha) is; there will be a whole herd Test (CFT) required of steers prior to export to the United States. The time (4 months) that these steer have to be held together is the big item. These tests will be required to be administered by the approved accredited veterinarians under a file called SAGARPA Officials Approved to Endorse TB test charts Chihuahua 2011.
There does seem to be an understanding that there is difficulty in establishing what a herd test may comprise in light of the way that the Chihuahua Corriente cattle are managed. Therefore, USDA will accept a group of cattle as a herd provided the group has been assembled for 4 months and has had no additions to the group during that 4 month period. After 4 months all animals in the herd must be tested to meet the whole herd test requirement.
What This Means - the time clock on herds start ticking on the 4 month time period as soon as the herd is assembled and tested. As long as no new individuals are added to a herd, a test would be done at 4 months and then if there are no problems these cattle will be allowed to cross. So pending no additional problems, Mexican steers could possibly start crossing the border again in mid- January (provided someone can put together a herd of cattle and find feed in Mexico). Keep in mind that owners of these cattle will expect compensation for four months of feed, plus additional labor costs. If that cost runs the price of steers up an additional $250 to $300 per head above their normal cost, it may not matter that the border will be open.
A side note - There was a little glimmer of hope for awhile in October that some of the trapped steers would get out. USDA quickly blocked that and came up with some new regulations to make sure they couldn't get out until 2012.