Canadian cattle reenter U.S.
July 25, 2005
Canadian cattle started reentering the U.S. last Monday, four days after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an injunction restricting those animals from crossing the U.S. border. A possible interruption of that movement was averted last week after a federal district court judge temporarily vacated the hearing that was scheduled on a permanent injunction request against Canadian cattle and beef.
Judge Richard Cebull, Billings, MT, last Wednesday delayed indefinitely a hearing on the suit that would bar USDA from allowing Canadian cattle and beef imports. In his written order, Cebull said he was awaiting the final opinion from the Ninth Circuit Court concerning the overturning of a previously approved temporary injunction against Canadian cattle.
“It is hereby ordered that oral arguments set before this Court on July 27, 2005, is Vacated until further order of the Court. After receipt of the Court of Appeals’ Opinion, this court will determine whether further hearings are necessary,” Cebull’s announcement said.
Cebull ordered the vacate order without a motion from either side of the R-CALF United Stockgrowers v. USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and USDA Secretary Mike Johanns lawsuit.
The appellate court said on July 14 that it would release its final order on the decision to overturn the preliminary injunction in “an expeditious manner,” and “in due process.” The final order was not yet announced as of press time last Thursday.
Attendees at the July 14 hearing in Seattle, WA, told WLJ that the three-judge panel appeared concerned that Cebull didn’t give USDA “just deference,” and that the injunction was possibly granted because of a difference in philosophy between the judge and USDA’s final import rule.
The appellate court overturned a preliminary injunction that Cebull granted R-CALF. The cattle producer group sought to bar Canadian cattle from entering the U.S., saying they were a potential threat to the U.S. cattle herd because Canada had three cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy show up in native-born cattle. In addition, a fourth cow of Canadian origin was confirmed with the disease in Washington state in December of 2003.
USDA was ready to reopen the border to Canadian fed and feeder cattle March 7, however, Cebull granted the injunction March 2.
Both sides of the lawsuit said they were awaiting the Ninth Circuit order and that they would not respond to the court’s decision until the final reasons for the decision were known.
USDA officials said three loads of Canadian fed cattle crossed the border—one at Niagara Falls, NY, and two others through the Port of Entry at Eastport, ID—Monday, July 18, which was the first day live cattle imports from north of the border were allowed. As of press time last Thursday, those were the only reports of cattle crossing from Canada.
“Right now the number is 115 animals have entered the United States,” said Ed Curlett, spokesman for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), last Wednesday. “All came Monday (July 18). Thirty-five through Niagara Falls and 80 through Eastport.”
The first load that crossed through Niagara Falls was bought by Cargill, for processing at its Wyalusing, PA, plant. The other two loads that day were bought by Tyson for its Pasco, WA, facility.
Overall volume of cattle coming in was considered small, compared to how many could start entering the U.S. later this year, particularly during the fourth quarter. The influx of cattle was very slow due to extra rules in place for them.
Officials with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) reiterated that Canadian feeder and fed cattle need to be identified by both an official Canadian eartag and a “CAN” brand on the right hip.
In addition, Canadian feedlots need to be certified by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for shipping only cattle that are 30 months of age or younger that are accompanied by the appropriate paperwork. That paperwork has to include the destination name, address, contact person, and all information regarding the cattle being transported, including lot size, tag numbers, age verification and where cattle are being shipped from. A statement saying the cattle have been kept in Canada the 60 days prior to date of shipment to the U.S. must also be signed.
In the case of Canadian feeder cattle, they must be shipped directly to a USDA-certified feedlot who agrees that those cattle will remain at that feedlot until being shipped off for slaughter at the age of 30 months or under. The feedlot must also agree to ship all Canadian cattle for slaughter separate from U.S. cattle.
“Canadian bovines must be moved as a group of Canadian bovines to the slaughter establishment,” the final APHIS rule says. “U.S. and Canadian bovines cannot be shipped in the same vehicle to slaughter.”
The small volume of cattle entering from Canada last week was said to be the result of CFIA and USDA still certifying feedlots and packing plants for acceptance of Canadian cattle. In addition, CFIA sources said that a lot of the fed cattle for immediate slaughter were not yet “CAN” branded. Feedlots were wanting to wait a few days after that process to ship their cattle due to excessive stress and weight loss. Extra stress can be responsible for an increase of “dark cutters,” which are docked significantly by processors. — Steven D. Vetter, WLJ Editor
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