Creekstone Wins First Round of USDA Suit

Initial ruling on suit challenging USDA's rule to prohibit private BSE tests takes several months off trial process.

Published on: Jun 2, 2006

Creekstone Farms scored its first victory in a lawsuit challenging USDA's decision to keep private companies from voluntarily testing cattle for bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

U.S. District Court Judge James Robertson set a schedule that allows Creekstone to file a motion for summary judgment by June 23 and USDA will have until Sept. 15 to respond, according to wire reports. This is an accelerated timeline compared to most trials.

The Arkansas City, Kansas-based meatpacker filed the suit in March. Creekstone is challenging USDA's claim that it has the legal authority to control access to and the use of the "test kits" needed to perform BSE testing. Over the past two years, USDA has repeatedly denied Creekstone's requests to conduct voluntary BSE testing.

"If BSE testing is an additional attribute that our customers want, free enterprise should allow us to provide this additional element. In a country where free enterprise, satisfying consumers, and building businesses through thoughtful marketing and innovation are encouraged, I find it very difficult to understand why our government would not be supportive of this important effort," says John Stewart, CEO and Founder of Creekstone Farms.

For the third time in less than two weeks, Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., introduced his amendment on "USA Competitiveness" in the agricultural appropriations debate. This is an attempt to include language in the appropriations process to allow privately conducted BSE testing. However, because the amendment is a matter of authorizing language and not an appropriations issue, it was eventually withdrawn.