The Agriculture Department fully investigated all aspects of Canada's science-based system to control and prevent bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) before it issued a rule that would have re-opened the U.S. border to Canadian cattle, and a District Court judge from Montana erred when he blocked USDA from implementing the rule, according to a friend-of-the-court brief joined by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

AFBF joined the brief, filed in the case R-CALF v. USDA, in conjunction with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the National Pork Producers Council, several state farm bureaus, and other farm and livestock groups. The case is being heard in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

According to the brief, the District Court, in blocking the USDA rule, failed to adhere to the basic principle that states if an "agency considered the relevant factors and articulated a rational connection between the facts found and the choices made, a court must uphold its decision." Even where evidence before an agency is susceptible to more than one interpretation, the brief states, "a reviewing court may not substitute its judgment for that of the agency."

As stated in the brief, the plaintiff in the case, R-CALF (Ranchers Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America) must show that the USDA ruling was "arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law."

Judging by the amount of documentation and actions taken by USDA leading up to the final rule to reopen Canadian cattle trade, "R-CALF's burden is a heavy one," according to the brief.

R-CALF faces a May 12 deadline for filing documents in the case. The appeals court is unlikely to hold a hearing before that time.

Source: Association Release