Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF) added to its long list of courtroom setbacks this week when the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision allowing importation of Canadian cattle into the U.S. The group had argued that USDA's plan to allow the importation of live Canadian cattle posed a BSE risk to the U.S. cattle herd.
"Having reviewed the merits of this case, we conclude that the agency considered the relevant factors and articulated a rational connection between the facts found and its decision to designate Canada a minimal-risk country. R-CALF's extra-record evidence has failed to convince us that the agency's review was unauthorized, incomplete or otherwise improper," wrote Judge Cynthia Holcomb Hall.
To read the 21-page decision, click here: www.ca9.uscourts.gov/ca9/newopinions.nsf/F226F16F54F89255882573450059A797/$file/0635512.pdf?openelement.
While the ruling was no surprise, and was considered a formality by most, it nevertheless had the U.S. and Canadian beef industry's full attention, as the industry feared the backlash that would have been caused by a surprise ruling. R-CALF expressed disappointment in the ruling, continued to raise concerns about the safety of beef as a result of USDA's rule, and said it was evaluating its options on how to move forward.
But there are very few options left to R-CALF. The group could request a hearing in front of the full court. It also could appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but most experts believe there's virtually no chance the Supreme Court would choose to hear the case.
Considering the millions of dollars and man-hours spent on this effort, and already reeling from its internal division and strife, R-CALF likely will now focus on trying to play some sort of role in getting mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) implemented. Mandatory COOL remains a top priority for its membership and success in that arena represents an opportunity for the R-CALF leadership to claim some sort of victory to its membership.