When Arkansas City, Kan.-based Creekstone Farms Premium Beef decided to appease its overseas customers by voluntarily testing its cattle for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) threatened criminal prosecution.
Creekstone fought back, filing suit in March in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleging that the USDA's refusal to allow it to test for BSE is "outside of its statutory authority, irrational, based on inappropriate considerations, and contrary to fundamental principals of our American form of government."
The USDA alleges the BSE test kits Creekstone wanted to use were not based on sound science and could potentially hurt other companies that are unable to do similar testing. District Judge James Robertson set Sept. 15 as the deadline for parties to respond to cross motions for summary judgment.
"If BSE testing is an additional attribute that our customers want, free enterprise should allow us to provide this additional element," said John Stewart, CEO and Founder of Creekstone Farms in a statement. "In a country where free enterprise, satisfying consumers, and building businesses through thoughtful marketing and innovation are encouraged, I find it very difficult to understand why our government would not be supportive of this important effort."