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The Monkey Wrench Gang PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Dittmer   
Friday, 03 June 2005
AFF Sentinel Vol2, #27

Strategies: Make Trouble, Denigrate Everyone Else, Claim Scientific Genius, Call in the LAG Allies

You may be tired of hearing about them, but the monkey-wrench gang known as R-CALF is not through with you -- if you have anything to do with the beef industry. Here is what they have been up to lately:

  • Deciding that they should take advantage of a friendly venue in Billings at the district court level, R- CALF's attorneys filed a Motion for Summary Judgment in early May, asking Judge Cebull to not only make the temporary injunction on live cattle permanent but to add beef e.g. boxed beef, to the border closure list.
  • Regarding the appeal of the Billings ruling in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, R-CALF has determined that they, and only they, should decide matters of international trade. They filed objections to a whole list of friend-of-the-court briefs, telling the court that NCBA, two cattle companies, the American Meat Institute, North American Meat Processors and the National Meat Association should not be allowed to even comment officially. They also told the court that the intervenor request from the National Meat Association (NMA) should be refused. They feel packers - both small and large - who buy cattle on both sides of the border so cattle feeders in border regions have a market, should have no standing nor be allowed comment on international trade. Of course, R-CALF's whole lawsuit in the first place was to force USDA to yield and do what R-CALF had decided was proper with the border.
  • Now R-CALF has claimed status as international scientific experts. The world agricultural community and R-CALF itself has acknowledged the OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) as world animal health experts. Now R-CALF has claimed the OIE doesn't know what they are doing - only R-CALF does. R- CALF attacked the updated BSE standards the OIE recently released as a "step backward for OIE" and "...not in step with its mission to ensure basic health and safety standards..." according to Bill Bullard, R-CALF CEO.

Some of you have asked for an overview of the various timelines and venues involved with the border issue. Here are some snippets along with new scheduling information just announced.

Along with the possibility that Judge Cebull in Billings could just make the border closure permanent on his own hook, USDA has filed an appeal of the preliminary injunction with the Ninth Circuit court on the West Coast. It was announced June 1 that the appeal hearing will be held July 13 in Seattle. That same hearing will determine whether NMA will get intervenor status in the case.

Of course, if Cebull in Billings does not grant the request for Summary Judgment and the Ninth Circuit does nothing, then the case will go to trial the end of July in Billings.

R-CALF was looking a little lonely, with all the briefs stacked on one side of this case and theirs on the other. But the Liberal Activist Groups (LAGs) have rushed in to fill the void. On June 2, the LAGs filed a friend of the court brief with the Ninth Circuit supporting R-CALF's position. David Domina, also the lead attorney on the Pickett-Tyson case, filed the brief on behalf of the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) and a who's who of LAG partners, including Public Citizen, Consumer Federation of America, National Catholic Rural Life Conference, WORC, National Farmers Union, National Farmers Organization and a list of regional and state groups totaling 67. Also on the list were the Center for Food Safety, a group that opposes food technology and modern agriculture and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, that promotes "sustainable" agriculture and opposes "industrial agriculture."

Their basic position is that faulty American inspection and regulation make the threat to consumers bad enough here in the U.S. already, without importing Canadian cattle. They used the usual liberal tactic - slow down, we don't know enough, wait until science knows everything there is to know, zero tolerance -- to plead for keeping the border closed.

In fact, the president of Cattlemen's Competitive Market Project, an arm of OCM, Ken Knuppe, a cow/calf producer from South Dakota, told the media on a conference call that when it comes to BSE, "science is talked about a lot, but, truthfully, not much is known." He went on to say that only two things are really known about BSE: 1) Canada has BSE. 2) BSE is lethal to humans. 3) the U.S. does not have any cases of it. [he said two and gave three facts.]

"The rest is all theory," Knuppe said. "We do not know a lot about it [BSE]. At one time, sound science said the world was flat. BSE is there now. We don't know much, we need to know more..."

Such is a succinct summary of LAG theory on BSE. Of course, it is really their grasping at straws to stop trade, no matter what they have to say.

So much for this brief overview. We will get into more detail in the coming days.

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 24 June 2006 )
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