Today, a diverse group of 67 national, state, & local public interest groups, producer, and consumer groups and private concerns filed their Legal Brief in the US Court of Appeals at S F asking the Court to prevent implementation of a USDA rule that would open the US Border to importation of live cattle. The group includes The Consumer Federation of America, Organization for Competitive Markets, National Farmers Union, Public Citizen, Center for Food Safety, National Catholic Rural Life, National Farmers Organization, and state or local organizations from Massachusetts to California, and Michigan to Texas.
This rule, if implemented, will expose the US human and bovine herds to health risks to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or Mad Cow Disease.
This remarkable group, as friends of court, represent members totaling more than 50 million Americans from coast to coast and border to border. This is over 1/6th the population. The diverse group represents Americans of all backgrounds: liberal & conservative, young & old, rich & poor, urban & rural. All share a common concern that the USDA has taken an inappropriate shortcut with public health and safety. The USDA has adopted a rule that fails the agencies own 8-step criteria for a proper public health agency regulation.
The friends of court have told the Circuit Court that the USDA rule utterly fails to engage the scientific method as a process, and science as a tool, to assure a healthy food and livestock supply. The brief does not make economic arguments.
The USDA's rule lacks precision, objectivity, and science. It uses nonscientific words including:
- Likely 109 Uses
- Expect 96
- Possible, possibly 103
- Could 90
- Assume 58
Federal agencies broadly require scientific verification for safe importation of all things ingested, injected or inserted into the human body. This is true of everything from dental fillings to prophylactics and food. Now, beef, which is consumed at a rate of 62 lbs. / American, is the stark exception under the USDA rule.
Furthermore, the challenged rule provides no agency coordination, commits no USDA personnel, or resources to compliance, and sets out no measure for its success.
The Amici have written that importation of 1.7 million live cattle from Canada provides a statistically near certain likelihood BSE will be vectored into the US within a year. The Canadian incidence rate of BSE, and the cattle import numbers produce this inescapable conclusion.
If BSE or Mad Cow Disease is vectored into this nation, thousands of cattle producers, millions of cattle, tens of millions of people, and billions of dollars are at risk. The countervailing "reward" for this risk is not expressed in the rule, and has never been expressed by USDA.
So, the question for the USDA is this: Why take the risk?
The Cattlemen's Competitive Marketing Program is related to the Organization for Competitive Markets. the CCMP undertook the prodigious task of organizing the 67 organizations aligned behind this remarkable court filing, and deserve the thanks of all organizations, and the nation, for the effort.
For my part, Domina Law Group pc llo and I are greatly honored to have been asked to express the position of this remarkable group in this court filing.
Click Here for Text of Brief
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