Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy ('Mad Cow Disease') and Canadian Beef Imports [Updated March 11, 2005] [open pdf - 119KB]
"Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or 'mad cow disease) is a degenerative, fatal disease affecting the nervous system in cattle," and rarely occurs in North America. Three reported cases from Canadian cattle-one in 2003 and two in 2005- spurred the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to ban Canadian beef imports during the years of reported disease, only to subsequently create controversial regulatory policies. A lawsuit was filed in April 2004 by the group, Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America, which asked for a temporary restraining order of USDA policy allowing import of Canadian bovine products, claiming inconsistent relaxations on the import ban. Filings by the Canadian Cattlemen for Fair Trade in August 2004 and the American Meat Institute in December 2004 claimed the import bans discriminatory and unfounded. U.S. Federal courts took action in resolving these and other lawsuits that stymied the USDA's rulemaking efforts. Regulations pertaining to Canadian cattle and beef imports were unclear at the time this report was published. "This report, which will be updated if significant developments ensue, provides a narrative chronology of selected U.S. actions after the discovery of BSE in North America, presenting in sequence this often confusing chain of events. The report focuses on USDA's steps to reopen the U.S. border to Canadian beef, and concludes with a discussion of USDA's actions in the context of APA [Administrative Procedure Act] rulemaking procedures."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32627
National Agricultural Law Center: http:nationalaglawcenter.org/