Cattlemen sue over plans for more Canadian beef imports

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

BILLINGS, Mont. -- A cattlemen's group sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday to stop it from allowing live cattle and expanded beef imports from Canada, which confirmed a new case of mad cow disease this month.

The lawsuit says the USDA's plan would pose a risk to consumers and U.S. producers.

The group, R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America, asks a federal judge to keep the USDA from implementing the import plan.

The suit follows the agency's announcement last month that it will allow imports from Canada of cattle under 30 months and certain other animals and products, beginning in March.

Canadian officials announced Jan. 2 that a new case of mad cow disease had been confirmed there. Meghan Thomas, a spokeswoman with USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

R-CALF contends the USDA plan would increase the risk of mad cow disease in cattle in this country, as well as expose U.S. consumers who eat meat to the possibility of infection.

The group also claims the that the market for cattle will be "adversely affected" by allowing the expanded trade.

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