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A one-year experiment to exempt imports of Canadian meat and poultry from U.S. border inspection is under consideration as a move toward freer trade between the two countries, the Agriculture Department said Thursday.

Ronald J. Prucha, associate administrator of the department's Food Safety and Inspection Service, said the products would still be thoroughly inspected at slaughter and processing plants in Canada under a system that is nearly identical to U.S. inspection.

However, he said, Canadian products in the proposed one-year experiment would no longer be randomly sampled at the border. A reciprocal arrangement would be used for U.S. meat and poultry products entering Canada.

Prucha said the proposal would help implement the United States-Canada Free Trade Agreement.

The proposal will be open for public comments through July 30 before a final decision is made. Comments can be sent to the Food Safety and Inspection Service at the Department of Agriculture in Washington.

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