Canada has exceeded its mad cow testing target for 2004, says the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
As of Oct. 27, more than 8,600 animals were tested for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, the scientific name for mad cow, the agency said in a news release. The target was 8,000 cattle tested by the end of 2004.
All results came back negative for the disease.
"Reaching this year's target ahead of schedule shows that Canada is taking its surveillance responsibilities seriously," federal Agriculture Minister Andy Mitchell said in the release.
The federal government is increasing the number of cattle tested to 30,000 in 2005 and subsequent years.
The testing process is aimed at high-risk cattle that are showing signs of disease, such as aged or downer animals.
Canada has been testing cattle for BSE since 1992, but boosted testing levels after a single case of mad cow disease was found in Alberta in May 2003.
The U.S. closed its border to Canadian beef after the discovery, but now allows in live cattle under 30 months and some cuts of beef.
It's estimated the crisis has cost the Canadian beef industry and rural economies more than $6 billion.
Last month, Ted Haney of the Canadian Beef Export Federation warned cattle industry executives that it was essential for the country to meet testing targets.
"Not meeting those BSE surveillance targets will simply undermine our ability to confirm our risk status, status, which will make more difficult the task of re-establishing trade," he said at the time.
The World Organization for Animal Health, better known by its French acronym OIE, can drop Canada's status as a minimal BSE risk to moderate BSE risk if the testing targets are not met.
Alberta, home to the bulk of the Canadian herd, gives farmers $150 per head to make cattle available for testing.
The agency also is giving $4.1-million until December 2005 to help offset producers' costs associated with testing, such as veterinary examination and carcass disposal.
The agency also has a toll-free number for producers across Canada to call to report animals for testing.