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OTM rule sent back for comment: report

The rule that allows older Canadian cattle to enter the U.S. must be reopened for a public comment period, a U.S. district court judge ruled Thursday, according to a report from financial news agency Bloomberg.

Bloomberg’s Edvard Pettersson reported Thursday that U.S. District Judge Lawrence Piersol found for the protectionist U.S. ranchers’ group R-CALF USA, which had filed for a preliminary injunction against the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s rule allowing imports of approved Canadian cattle over the age of 30 months (OTMs).

The ruling, filed in Sioux Falls, S.D., says R-CALF has a “substantial likelihood of success” on its claim that the OTM rule, which has been in effect since last fall, required a new round of public notice and comment, Bloomberg said.

R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard told the news agency that Piersol’s ruling has no effect on the flow of cattle into the U.S., but “legitimizes our complaint that USDA acted prematurely.” USDA had not publicly responded to the ruling.

R-CALF on Tuesday had filed supplemental information with Piersol regarding Canada’s latest case of BSE, found in a five-year-old dairy cow in British Columbia and announced June 23 by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The animal’s age was released June 27.

“This animal, which was born in 2003, is the second-youngest bovine found to have BSE in Canada and was born more recently than any other BSE-infected cattle identified in Canada,” R-CALF lawyers wrote in a July 1 letter to Piersol.

The B.C. cow was the eighth reported case that was born after the Canadian feed ban went into effect in 1997, R-CALF said in its letter.

“…two of the three BSE cases discovered since the (OTM rule) went into effect could have been imported legally into the United States from Canada under the challenged rule (OTM rule) before they succumbed to BSE,” R-CALF wrote.

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