Senate opposes Canada imports

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Mar 7, 2005
by WLJ
— USDA’s final import rule nixed.
— House proposal expected next.

The full Senate voted 52-46 in favor of a resolution of disapproval against USDA’s proposed final rule concerning imports from “minimum BSE risk” countries. A similar proposal is expected to be introduced in the House of Representatives over the next two weeks, sources said.
The Senate resolution, originally introduced by Sen. Kent Conrad, D-ND, specifically cited the issue of allowing live cattle and an expanded category of beef from Canada beginning March 7. The resolution means that a majority of the Senate is against USDA implementing its final rule concerning imports from countries that USDA deems as having minimum risk for BSE and that possible legislation concerning the issue might be proposed in the future if the agency doesn’t work toward amending or changing the rule, congressional aides told WLJ.
On the House side, Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-ND, is expected to propose a similar resolution of opposition before mid-month. Aides with several House members said they expect a similar result as in the Senate concerning a vote on the issue.
However, the bill is expected to hit a roadblock in the form of President George W. Bush, who isn’t expected to sign it. His veto of the bill could be overrode, but it takes a two-thirds vote in the Senate, and whether that much support exists is uncertain.
Aides with several Democrat representatives said that last week’s decision by a federal court judge to delay reopening the border will help efforts to force USDA to rethink the final cattle and beef import rule.
In addition, Pomeroy, in a published statement, praised R-CALF USA for its legal challenge of USDA’s rule and said it gives notice that regulatory actions aren’t beyond reproach.
“It is not the first time R-CALF has prevailed against USDA in court. The last ruling found that USDA was exploiting a very narrow window for the import of boxed beef and that they had blown open a loophole beyond any recognition. This is the second judicial success they’ve had, and it reflects on the shoddy work product of USDA,” Pomeroy said. — Steven D. Vetter, WLJ Editor