DOJ: News Release

McGrath, Other AGs: Support Injunction Closing Border to Canadian Cattle

HELENA – Montana Attorney General Mike McGrath filed a friend-of-the-court brief Tuesday in The U.S. Court of Appeals, urging support for an injunction that closed the U.S. border to Canadian cattle. Attorneys general from Connecticut, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota also signed the brief.

On March 2, U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull issued a preliminary injunction delaying the opening of the U.S. border to the importation of meat and live cattle from Canada. Prior to Cebull’s decision, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rule recognized Canada as “presenting minimal risk” of introducing bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE) or “mad cow disease” into the U.S. The USDA rule had been scheduled to go into effect March 7.

Tuesday’s filing in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is not about the validity of the USDA rule. Rather, it said the question before the appeals court “is a narrow one – whether the (U.S.) district court abused its discretion by taking this measured and deliberate approach to consideration of the case.”

The brief submitted Tuesday contends that the district court “appropriately exercised caution by preventing USDA from proceeding until (it) could completely and thoroughly consider the merits.”

“This is a case in which it is better for the USDA to be right than fast,” McGrath said, quoting from the conclusion of the brief.

Cebull’s March ruling was in response to a request for an injunction by the Ranchers Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA). R-CALF, a non-profit association of cattle producers and feedlot owners, sued the USDA January, and asked for the injunction in early February.

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