Billings, Mont. -- Yes, the ball is still in play -- although a distant memory for some -- with regard to the litigation filed in 2007 by R-CALFUSA and 10 other plaintiffs against the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) decision to allow into the U.S. older Canadian cattle born after March 1, 1999, and beef from Canadian cattle of all ages. Canada continually has had a significant problem with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease, and the agency's latest legal notice suggests that 'the people's agency' is about to kowtow to global interests instead of honoring its congressional mandate to protect U.S. citizens.
On July 3, 2008, a South Dakota federal judge essentially ordered USDA to go back to the drawing board on its over-30-month rule (OTM Rule) and instructed the agency to open a new public comment period on the matter. He then required USDA to report the developments to him on a quarterly basis.
USDA, in its Oct. 5, 2009, status submission to the court, reported that more than 4,800 pages of comments were received and that those comments are currently in "intra-departmental clearance," and afterward will be submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The agency estimates OMB will finish its review no later than Jan. 5, 2010, the date USDA's next status report to the court is due.
On Nov. 17, 2009, R-CALF USA and 39 other groups sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to express their serious concerns about the agency's status submission.