The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has overturned a lower court's temporary injunction banning imports of Canadian cattle.
Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns says because the ruling is effective immediately, steps to resume the importation of cattle under 30 months of age from Canada are underway.
"USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is already in contact with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to prepare to certify cattle for shipment,â€ a statement from Johanns says. â€œWe have been safely importing boneless boxed beef from Canada since September 2003, and now we will use the scientific approach laid out in our minimal risk rule to once again safely import live Canadian cattle for processing."
The beef industry has been watching this case carefully and opponents of the temporary injunction had hoped the appeals court would end the ban. "This is great news for the future of the U.S. beef industry, specifically the many ranchers, feeders, and processing plants that have been struggling to make ends meet due to the closed border," Johanns says. "It also bolsters our position with other international trading partners by following the very advice we have given them to base trade decisions on sound science."
National Cattlemenâ€™s Beef Association President Jim McAdams says "NCBA is pleased that the 9th Circuit Court agreed with the science: beef is safe from bovine spongiform encephalopathy."
R-CALF USA filed the preliminary injunction and remains confident that USDAâ€™s Final Rule was not justified, and that USDA did not provide significant justification for overturning a longstanding policy that protected both the U.S. cattle herd and U.S. consumers from the introduction of BSE, says a statement from R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.
"R-CALF is confident that when we have a full hearing on the merits of the case, we will demonstrate to the district court that USDAâ€™s actions are premature and unjustified," Bullard says. A full hearing is scheduled for the end of July.
Bullard also noted in his statement that this latest development in the border dispute shows the greater need for country-of-origin labeling, so consumers will know the source of their meat.