Judge orders USDA to allow comment on Canadian beef imports
By order of a federal court judge, the United States Department of Agriculture must allow comment on Canadian beef imports, addressing parts of a lawsuit recently filed by R-CALF USA. The ruling does not affect current trade of Canadian live cattle or beef.
July 7, 2008
USDA must initiate new rulemaking and allow for public comment on its decision to resume imports of beef from Canadian cattle 30 months of age and older, a federal judge has ruled.
The order addresses one of several counts in a lawsuit filed by R-CALF USA and other plaintiffs seeking a preliminary injunction of USDA's rule, which allowed resumption of imports of older Canadian cattle and most beef product from older Canadian cattle late last year. (See U.S. reopens border to older Canadian cattle on Meatingplace.com, Sept. 14, 2007.)
According to court documents filed July 3 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern Division of South Dakota, Judge Lawrence L. Piersol concluded that USDA failed to initiate new rulemaking before including in its proposed final rule released in January 2007 and enacted in November 2007 a provision that allowed for resumption of imports of beef from Canadian cattle older than thirty months (OTM). USDA had delayed that provision, first published in January 2005, after the detection of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in a 4-year-old animal from Alberta in July 2006.
Piersol wrote, "The USDA's failure to explain why the OTM beef provisions were implemented in 2007 after its decision not to implement them in 2005 prohibits this Court from concluding that a reasoned basis for the decision existed in 2007."
Piersol's order does not suspend trade of Canadian live cattle or beef. The judge has not ruled on the plaintiffs' request for injunction.