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FARMING

Spain reports isolated case of mad cow disease

A farm in Salamanca has detected a rare case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly called mad cow disease.

Spain reports isolated case of mad cow disease
Photo: AFP

Spain's Ministry of Agriculture confirmed that a case of BSE had been recorded in the northwestern province of Castilla y Leon, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Friday.

The diseased cow, which belonged to a herd of 134 cattle on a farm  in the village of Horcajo Medianero, near Salamanca, was destroyed after routine controls found that it tested positive for atypical BSE type L. The case was then reported to the OIE as protocol demands.

The Ministry of Agriculture said the case did not pose a threat to public health.

Mad cow disease causes a degeneration of the brain and spinal cord in cattle, which can be transmitted to humans through eating beef.

BSE was first reported in Britain in the mid-1980s when it was linked to a human variant of the fatal brain-wasting disease.

Britain was seriously affected by an epidemic that also affected other countries, including Spain, where 741 cases were detected between 1995 and 2007.

The number of cases of BSE plummeted after bans were introduced on feed that included meat and bone meal from infected cows believed to cause the disease.

 

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FARMING

WTO rules US tariffs on Spanish olives breach rules

A US decision to slap steep import duties on Spanish olives over claims they benefited from subsidies constituted a violation of international trade rules, the World Trade Organisation ruled Friday.

WTO rules US tariffs on Spanish olives breach rules
Farmers had just begun harvesting olives in southern Spain when former US President Donald Trump soured the mood with the tariffs' announcement. Photo: Jorge Guerrero/AFP

Former US president Donald Trump’s administration slapped extra tariffs on Spain’s iconic agricultural export in 2018, considering their olives were subsidised and being dumped on the US market at prices below their real value.

The combined rates of the anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties go as high as 44 percent.

The European Commission, which handles trade policy for the 27 EU states, said the move was unacceptable and turned to the WTO, where a panel of experts was appointed to examine the case.

In Friday’s ruling, the WTO panel agreed with the EU’s argument that the anti-subsidy duties were illegal.

But it did not support its stance that the US anti-dumping duties violated international trade rules.

The panel said it “recommended that the United States bring its measures into conformity with its obligations”.

EU trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis hailed the ruling, pointing out that the US duties “severely hit Spanish olive producers.”

Demonstrators take part in a 2019 protest in Madrid, called by the olive sector
Demonstrators take part in a 2019 protest in Madrid called by the olive sector to denounce low prices of olive oil and the 25 percent tariff that Spanish olives and olive oil faced in the United States. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP)
 

“We now expect the US to take the appropriate steps to implement the WTO ruling, so that exports of ripe olives from Spain to the US can resume under normal conditions,” he said.

The European Commission charges that Spain’s exports of ripe olives to the United States, which previously raked in €67 million ($75.6 million) annually, have shrunk by nearly 60 percent since the duties were imposed.

The office of the US Trade Representative in Washington did not immediately comment on the ruling.

According to WTO rules, the parties have 60 days to file for an appeal.

If the United States does file an appeal though, it would basically amount to a veto of the ruling.

That is because the WTO Appellate Body — also known as the supreme court of world trade — stopped functioning in late 2019 after Washington blocked the appointment of new judges.

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