• If you are having problems logging in please use the Contact Us in the lower right hand corner of the forum page for assistance.

R-CALF Update

Help Support Ranchers.net:



Cattle-Producer Group Files Motion
for Summary Judgment in Canadian Border Case

May 18, 2005
(Billings, Mont.) – Since 1989, the United States has had regulations prohibiting the importation of cattle or beef products from any country affected by bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). Canada is the 23rd country to have discovered the incurable disease within its native herd.

To this day, the United States has not accepted cattle or beef from any of the first 22 countries affected by this disease, whether these nations reported only one case (Israel, Finland, Greece, and Austria), or hundreds of cases (France and Germany). Just a couple of years ago, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) was telling Congress and the international community that these import bans were a key element to prevent the introduction of BSE into the United States. Only when Canada was impacted by BSE did the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) attempt to overturn the 1989 policy, established to protect our domestic cattle herd and beef consumers within the United States.

Last week, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, R-CALF USA filed a motion for summary judgment in its lawsuit against the USDA, in which R-CALF USA asked the court to overturn USDA's Final Rule on reopening the Canadian border to live cattle and additional beef products.

R-CALF USA's motion asserts that USDA has failed to exercise sufficient caution in protecting domestic animal health and human health, as directed by Congress, when the agency relaxed prior requirements to deal with BSE and abandoned conservative positions without adequate justification when considering importing from a country known to have BSE. When USDA attempted to explain away the risks, USDA made assumptions that were inconsistent with the scientific data the agency had before it and the scientific data the agency already had on file.

R-CALF USA argued that USDA had a special obligation in this case to publicly explain why the agency chose to abandon its prior decision to ban imports from BSE-affected countries, and USDA did not successfully meet that obligation. Even the agency's own Inspector General criticized USDA for expanding imports from Canada based only on a desire to respond to industry (meat processor) requests to expand trade, rather than on scientific determinations that the products presented a minimal risk.

R-CALF USA's motion for summary judgment also points out that USDA failed to explain why it had considered certain products to be low-risk, especially when USDA's own Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE) Working Group had concluded that some of these products were moderate-risk, or even high-risk.

The TSE Working Group also told USDA that, even for low-risk products, "significant trade should be prohibited because of BSE, and shouldn't be resumed 'unless and until' seven criteria are met." (See www.r-calfusa.com "BSE-Litigation" to view entire TSE Working Group Memo dated June 16, 2003.)

USDA moved forward to reopen trade in a broad range of beef commodities just two months after the TSE Working Group presented its scientific findings to the agency – an action directly contrary to the conclusions of USDA's BSE risk-mitigation experts on the TSE Working Group's 14-member panel.

R-CALF USA further stated in its motion for summary judgment that USDA acted improperly when the agency assumed the prevalence of BSE in the Canadian herd is 'very low,' without any apparent support for that statement, and the agency did not demonstrate justification for those assumptions.

Canada has not yet conducted the kind of testing necessary to determine the prevalence of BSE in its herd, nor in potential "hot spots" in Canada. USDA attempted to explain away the discovery of four cases of BSE in Canadian-origin cattle in just a year-and-a-half by attributing those results to a "hot spot" of BSE in Alberta, and yet, failed to assess the risks to U.S. cattle and U.S. consumers if such a hot spot does, in fact, exist.

R-CALF USA also requested in its motion for summary judgment that the court halt all imports of Canadian boxed beef, as USDA has continually failed to adhere to standard "notice-and-comment rulemaking" procedures regarding these products, as well as the failure of the agency to make case-by-case determinations on the safety of each product. Again, USDA's own experts urged strengthening U.S. and Canadian risk-mitigation measures before resuming imports from Canada, but most of those critical upgrades in disease protection measures to reflect the obvious presence of BSE in Canada still have not been implemented.

"R-CALF filed a motion for summary judgment partly as a matter of standard legal procedure, and partly to prevent a long, drawn-out court battle when it's obvious to anyone who has reviewed the record that USDA does not have a reasoned or scientific justification for allowing cattle and beef from a BSE-affected nation into the United States, particularly under the extremely lenient conditions proposed in the agency's Final Rule," said R-CALF USA President and Co-Founder Leo McDonnell.
Manitoba_Rancher said:
This is the same old same old BSE! How are things down your way weatherwise? Darn warm here today!

Yep, still true, too.

Hate to say it, but the air conditioning actually feels good today. I poked my head in Soapweed's pickup right after dinner and he had his running, too. Our blood is too thick to take this mid 80s weather.