US agriculture secretary Mike Johanns has expressed disappointment in a vote by senators to disapprove a rule submitted by the US Department of Agriculture to establish minimal risk regions and resume trade in Canadian beef and cattle under 30 months of age.

"Today's action undermines the US efforts to promote science-based regulations, complicates US negotiations to reopen foreign markets to US beef and would perpetuate the economic disruption of the beef and cattle industry," he said.

"USDA remains confident that the requirements of the minimal-risk rule, in combination with the animal and public health measures already in place in the United States and Canada, provide the utmost protection to both US consumers and livestock. We also remain fully confident in the underlying risk assessment…, which determined Canada to be a minimal risk region.

"I will now work with the US house of representatives to prevent passage of this resolution, which is strongly opposed by the Bush Administration, and continue our aggressive efforts to reopen international markets to US beef."