The small-rancher group R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America will file a request early next week for a preliminary injunction to stop the U.S. from lifting its nearly two-year-old ban on imports of Canadian live cattle, the chief executive of the group said.

R-CALF's Bill Bullard told Dow Jones Newswires the group will file for the preliminary injunction in U.S. district court in Montana. Once R-CALF's injunction is filed, the USDA will have three weeks to file a brief on the government's argument to rescind the ban.

After the USDA files its brief, R-CALF will then have five days to respond.

Bullard expects a hearing on the preliminary injunction to be the first week in March, which is right before the March 7 date of when the ban is to be lifted.

Earlier this month the rancher group filed a suit for a permanent injunction on lifting the Canadian live cattle ban.

Bullard called Canadian cattle a health threat to herds in the U.S. He said it should not be up to R-CALF to stop USDA from allowing Canadian cattle in, but said the Montana-based rancher group is moving forward with the preliminary injunction in case Congress does not act.