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More R-calf BS

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Feb 10, 2005
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R-CALF returns to federal court

by Pete Hisey on 2/9/2006 for Meatingplace.com

Ranchers-Cattlemen's Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America, has renewed its challenge to USDA's rule reopening the U.S. market to the import of live Canadian cattle. The producer's group notified Judge Richard Cebull in January that it intended to pursue its case.

A federal appeals court ruled last summer that Cebull's preliminary injunction against reopening the border be thrown out, then returned the case to Cebull's court in Billings, Mont., for a full hearing. R-CALF and USDA have filed rival documents, USDA asking that the case be thrown out and R-CALF arguing that it should go forward.

R-CALF's new filings include information not available at the time of the original complaint, filed shortly before the border was due to open in March 2005. According to Bill Bullard, chief executive of the organization, this information includes the discovery of an animal with bovine spongiform encephalopathy that had been born 32 months after the imposition of Canada's feed ban, "which disproves USDA's contention that the feed ban will protect against BSE," Bullard told Meatingplace.com.

The finding by USDA's Office of the Inspector General that there may be widespread errors in the removal of specified risk material (SRMs) at slaughterhouses "reinforces our contention that USDA was premature in developing its rule, and should have insured that risk mitigation methods had been fully developed" before reopening the border, Bullard said. "It's clear that policy holds a higher position at USDA than do food safety and animal health."

Several parties, including the American Meat Institute, the National Meat Association, the Canadian government and two Canadian cattle groups, have filed amicus briefs supporting USDA's position.

Cebull is under no time constraints as to granting summary judgment, an R-CALF request, or scheduling a trial, but Bullard said that given Cebull's past behavior, "the wait should not be a long one."

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