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R-CALF Asks for Injunction to Keep Border Closed

AMI says rule makes U.S. meat market less competitive and will force plants to close. 

It's just over a month away from when USDA's proposed rule to make Canada a minimal risk region will go into effect on March 7, 2005. But that road has several bumps before it's final.

R-CALF USA filed a motion requesting a Preliminary Injunction in its lawsuit against the USDA concerning the agency's Final Rule to reopen the Canadian border to live cattle and additional beef products. The motion was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, located in Billings, Mont., on Tuesday.

If granted, the Preliminary Injunction would temporarily stop USDA from implementing the Final Rule until after the court has fully considered the facts R-CALF USA raised in its lawsuit filed on Jan. 10, 2005.

USDA now has three weeks to respond to R-CALF USA's request for a Preliminary Injunction, and once that happens, R-CALF USA has five days to make a final written response to the court before the hearing, which the court has scheduled for March 2, 2005.

AMI files separate injunction

Charging that its members have been enduring significant and prolonged financial damages because of the ongoing ban on Canadian cattle, the American Meat Institute (AMI) filed a motion seeking a preliminary injunction against the USDA Friday in an attempt to end the remaining portions of the 18-month ban on Canadian cattle.

AMI has argued that since the May 2003 border closing, many U.S. meatpackers have endured huge economic losses because of the short supply of cattle, while Canada has taken steps to expand its domestic slaughtering capacity.

"Every day this ban drags on, yet another U.S. plant draws closer to closing its doors. Unless USDA's new rule is modified, it will result in the movement of thousands of meat processing jobs out of the United States," says Mark Dopp, AMI's senior vice president for regulatory affairs and general counsel. "This will happen primarily because the ban will prohibit the importation of older Canadian cattle for processing in U.S. plants, while allowing importation of meat from those same cattle processed in Canadian plants."

The United States Congress also has the authority to prevent the rule from going into effect. On Thursday, Feb. 3 the Senate Agriculture Committee will have a hearing on the issue.

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