Judge upholds Canadian border closing in mad cow case

WASHINGTON, DC, March 8, 2005 (ENS): The Canadian-U.S. border will remain closed to the import of Canadian beef for the present due to concern about cattle and beef infected with mad cow disease.

U.S. District Court Judge John Garrett Penn in Washington Monday denied the motion of American Meat Institute, an industry organization, to block enforcement of a May 2003 ban on imports of Canadian cattle.

The move is the latest in a series of court battles over the reopening of the border, which was originally scheduled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for Monday, but is now on hold.

American Meat Institute Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and General Counsel, Mark Dopp said, "The U.S. meat industry continues to believe as strongly as ever that full trade in beef and cattle products with Canada is justified by both the science and world animal health guidelines set by the OIE." OIE stands for the World Animal Health Organization.

"This ruling and other anti-trade developments this week have been a blow to free trade and to the principles that have made an industry strong and competitive in international markets," Dopp said.

The American Meat Institute believes that unless the border is opened their Canadian counterparts will resolve to do whatever is necessary to become a major competitor to the United States. "The U.S. has historically consumed almost 50 percent of Canada's production and more than 90 percent of their exports. Canada will never let that happen again - and we will suffer because of it," said Dopp.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture was pleased with Monday's ruling, spokesman Ed Loyd told reporters. "USDA has decided to consider this issue through a separate rulemaking process," he said.

"The fact that our long term ally may now become a rival and could move into our former export markets is salt in the wounds of the U.S. beef industry, which is suffering terribly from this protected, unnecessary and protectionist trade barrier," said Dopp. "But we will not let this - or any other development - weaken our resolve to work for science-based and internationally harmonized trade policies."

Last week, a federal district judge in Montana granted a cattlemen's association a preliminary injunction that prevented the Canadian border from reopening to live cattle and additional beef products on March 7. The border opening was scheduled by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in its Final Rule classifying Canada as a "minimal risk" country for mad cow disease, issued on December 29, 2004.

District Judge Richard Cebull ruled in favor of Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America), known as R-CALF USA, in its request for a preliminary injunction.


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