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Federal Court Lifts Ban on Candian Cattle

Friday, July 15, 2005

USDA officials are promising to move quickly to restore trade in cattle under 30 months of age with Canada following yesterday’s decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that reversed a preliminary injunction blocking imports of Canadian cattle and some Canadian beef.

"Because the ruling is effective immediately, we are immediately taking steps to resume the importation of cattle under 30 months of age," said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns. He said the government is already working with Canadian food inspectors "to certify cattle for shipment."

The unanimous decision by the court overturns the decision by Montana Judge Richard Cebull who in March granted the preliminary injunction that blocked the USDA from reopening the border.

“Today’s decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit is a victory for the beef industry and for consumers. We’ve waited two years for the border to open and we are grateful that the court has ruled on the side of science,” said AMI President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle, in a nationally released statement to the media. “The court’s expeditious ruling is a vindication of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s thoughtful, science-based rulemaking process that would have lifted the embargo in March had a lower court not granted a preliminary injunction against the rule,” he noted.

The decision came just one day after the U.S. Court of Appeals hearing in Seattle. The Justice Department’s Mark Stern noted that lifting the ban is based on "good science."

The decision to restore trade with Canada was also praised by many cattlemen. "This is a tremendous victory for the northwest beef industry," said Cody Easterday, who runs an 18,000-head feedlot in Pasco, Wash. "It's basically going to protect our future for many families that depend on the beef industry for their livelihood."

Boyle in an Associated Press story said that the ruling is also a victory for American consumers who were paying $1.85 a pound for ground beef before the border closed and are paying about $2.55 today. He also noted that nearly 8,000 meat packing jobs have been lost since the border closed.

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