The legal battle concerning opening the border to Canadian cattle has been reignited, according to Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA).
In 2008, the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota granted R-CALF USA, consumer groups, other cattle groups and individual ranchers an injunction against USDA’s final rule issued Sept. 18, 2007, that reopened the U.S. border to Canadian cattle older than 30 months of age and Canadian beef from cattle of any age.
The court found that USDA had violated its own rulemaking process in issuing the 2007 final rule and remanded the rule to USDA. The court ordered the agency to provide the public proper notice and comment period, to file quarterly progress reports with the court, and to make any changes to the final rule the agency deemed necessary after reviewing public comments.
An R-CALF release stated that for nearly four years USDA dragged its feet and though it initiated some of the court’s directives, it refused to fully comply with the injunction. In March 2012, USDA issued a new proposed rule that alters the 2007 final rule and proposes to open U.S. borders to imports from countries such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, Portugal and Spain. Entwined within USDA’s new proposal was a section purporting to comply with the court’s injunction. In March, USDA sent a notice to the court stating it had fulfilled the court’s 2008 order.
R-CALF USA replied to USDA’s notice and objected to its claim.
R-CALF USA urged the court to stay the lawsuit and continue requiring quarterly reports from USDA pending the agency’s completion of its new rulemaking process and the completion of the agency’s investigation into the cow in California recently detected to have an atypical strain of BSE.
On June 27, the court, among other things, ordered USDA to state when the new rulemaking is expected to be final, and to justify its claim that it had fulfilled the court’s 2008 order.