Tester Announces Bill to Ban Brazilian Beef

Senator Calls for Import Ban Following the Sale of Rotten Meat

 

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced legislation to temporarily ban the importation of Brazilian beef to protect American consumers from consuming rotten meat.

 

Following news that Brazilian meatpackers have been exporting rotten beef and trying to cover it up with cancer-causing acid products, Tester’s bill will place a 120-day ban on Brazilian beef imports. A 120-day ban will provide the U.S. Department of Agriculture time to comprehensively investigate food safety threats and to determine which Brazilian beef sources put American consumers are risk.

 

“We must take decisive action to ensure no family in Montana or anywhere else in this country is exposed to the danger of deceptive Brazilian beef processors,” said Tester, who butchers his own beef on his farm near Big Sandy, Mont. “Montana producers raise the best beef in the world and are held to the highest safety standards.  We cannot allow harmful food to come into our markets and endanger our families.”

 

I applaud Senator Tester’s decisive action,” said Errol Rice Executive Vice President of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. “The safety and integrity of our beef products is important for ranchers and consumers and we cannot have this dangerous product flooding our markets.”

 

In August of last year, Tester criticized the USDA’s decision to allow Brazilian beef imports to flood America’s markets.  He expressed fears about the safety of Brazil’s product.

 

In 2015, Tester successfully blocked the importation of Brazilian beef from regions where foot-and-mouth disease was prevalent.

 

Tester, Daines resume effort to overturn lynx decision

Montana senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines have rounded up a lengthy list of supporters for a bill to overturn a federal court decision on lynx protection.

Republican Daines and Democrat Tester join Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, and Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minnesota, on the bill to reverse the Cottonwood decision, which found that the U.S. Forest Service must do a top-level review of new critical habitat for lynx under the Endangered Species Act.

The decision name refers to the Bozeman-based Cottonwood Environmental Law Center, which won the case before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last year. The ruling was essentially confirmed when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a Forest Service appeal in October.

“This bipartisan legislation enjoys the support of diverse stakeholders and will protect Montana jobs and common-sense collaborative forest management projects that have been harmed by this court decision,” Daines wrote in an email.

“The Cottonwood decision could lead to endless red tape for folks working on timber projects, trail maintenance and conservation efforts,” Tester added in the same email. “To restore certainty for Montana mills and folks who work in the woods, we need to eliminate these hurdles created by the court and get this bipartisan bill signed into law.”

“I wish they had consulted me first,” replied John Meyer, the lead attorney at Cottonwood Environmental Law Center. “They are seeking to completely overturn or deform part of the Endangered Species Act. That should be of concern to all Americans.”

The list of 33 supporters includes 10 timber products groups such as the Montana Woods Products Association and Washington Contract Loggers; eight conservation groups including the National, Montana and Idaho Wildlife Federations and Wildlife Management Institute; and three agricultural groups including the Montana Stockgrowers and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. It features a number of hunting and fishing groups, such as Trout Unlimited, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Boone and Crockett Club.

Tom France of the National Wildlife Federation in Missoula added that the legislation was a product of widespread consultation. He disagreed with Meyer about how much change it might impose on the Endangered Species Act.

“Both Daines and Tester have been very careful in crafting a very targeted bill,” France said. “The conversations we’ve had with them are very responsive. And when you see a bill that really proposes significant changes in the ESA, you will know it. It’s not going to sneak up on anybody. The National Wildlife Foundation is very concerned about weakening protections and we’ll oppose that.”

The Cottonwood decision found that the Forest Service has to take a big-picture look at how it protects lynx critical habitat across 12 million acres touching 11 national forests. It grew out of a controversial mishandling of lynx policy dating back to the predator’s original ESA listing in 2000.

A 2006 critical habitat map left out all national forests, but an investigation found that former George W. Bush administration official Julie MacDonald improperly excluded millions of acres of federal, state and private lands. MacDonald resigned and FWS redid its lynx habitat analysis, increasing the cat’s critical territory from 1,841 square miles to about 39,000 square miles.

Daines’ office consulted with the Obama administration Justice Department in crafting the bill, which takes the same position the Forest Service argued before the 9th Circuit. The agency claimed it was more effective to address lynx habitat concerns on a project-by-project basis, rather than redoing full consultation with the FWS.

“When they say they’re upholding the Obama Forest Service, that’s different than the Obama Fish and Wildlife Service,” Meyer said. “And the Fish and Wildlife Service told the Forest Service if new critical habitat is put in place, you need to consult at the agency level.”

Not quite, according to American Forest Resource Council attorney Lawson Fite. While he acknowledged that the critical habitat maps from the original consultation were flawed, the on-the-ground protections for lynx remain in place. Those include checking snowshoe hare prey populations, winter snowpack levels, potential denning sites and the matrix of habitat connectivity.

“Any project that might affect lynx must be analyzed for effects on those elements,” Fite said. “That’s going to happen whether or not you do plan-level consultation. The bill basically insures that those procedures are still followed, but made in way that you don’t do things that don’t have meaningful conservation benefit.”

The Forest Service estimates 80 forest projects are on hold because of legal challenges based on the Cottontwood decision in Regions 1, 2 and 4. Region 1 challenges include the East Reservoir Restoration Project in the Kootenai National Forest and the Colt-Summit Restoration and Fuels Reduction Project in the Lolo National Forest.

Those Region 1 challenges in lynx critical habitat accounted for about 29 percent of the planned fiscal year 2017 timber harvest volume, amounting to 95.3 million board-feet of lumber on 17,764 acres.

Source: Missoulian

Tester Skewers Administration’s Brazilian Beef Decision

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 4, 2016

 

Marneé Banks | 202.604.5521

Dave Kuntz     | 202.224.8544

Luke Jackson  | 406.702.5484

 

Tester Skewers Administration’s Brazilian Beef Decision

Senator Stands Up for Montana Agriculture Producers and Consumers

 

(Big Sandy, MT) – Senator Jon Tester called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to increase transparency and address safety concerns regarding the importation of Brazilian beef.

 

This week USDA announced a policy change allowing Brazil to send raw beef to the United States.  Tester sent a letter to Secretary Vilsack on behalf of Montana consumers and hard-working cattlemen and women outlining his concerns about Brazil’s food safety standards and its meat industry’s recent history of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).  Tester pushed the USDA for answers on what the Administration has done to improve the emergency response to an animal disease outbreak such as FMD.  Additionally, he called for more transparency in how this decision was made and how these food safety standards would be verified in the future.

 

“Montana cattle producers have the best beef around, and they are held to the highest food safety standards,” Tester wrote.  “We should expect no less from Brazilian producers.”

 

In light of this decision, Brazil is expected to send 60,000 tons of beef to the United States this year.

 

“Montana ranchers cannot afford to jeopardize our state’s world renowned cattle herds to possible Foot and Mouth Disease exposure as a result of USDA’s recent announcement to import fresh chilled or frozen beef from Brazil,” said Errol Rice of the Montana Stockgrowers.  “We appreciate Senator Tester’s urgent inquiry into USDA’s decision and we look forward to working together to ensure that all possible risks to FMD have been thoroughly analyzed and addressed with rigorous scientific protocol by USDA.”

 

“USDA’s announcement falls in line with the number of obligations currently directed by agreements within the World Trade Organization (WTO) to the US.  The problem is that too often Brazil adheres to a “do as I say- not as I do” type of policy.  Brazil has a lengthy history of WTO violations that continue to undercut all sectors of US production agriculture.  Despite this, Brazil is the first to leverage the WTO when it works in their favor,” said Leo McDonnell, Director Emeritus of the US Cattleman’s Association.  “Senator Tester’s letter and ongoing efforts to combat such abuses ensures that both Montana and US cattle producers will not be run roughshod over by a country that continues to fail on every level in living up to international commitments.”

 

Tester’s letter to Secretary Vilsack can be found HERE.

MSGA Leadership Travels to Washington D.C. to Advocate Top Priorities Facing Montana’s Cattle Industry

Helena, MT – A leadership delegation from the Montana Stockgrowers Association traveled to Washington D.C. April 12-14 to lobby numerous issues with Congress and Federal agencies. These issues included: Eradication of Brucellosis, Country of Origin Labeling for U.S. Beef, stopping the proposed federal bison quarantine facility, federal water regulations, sage grouse, endangered species, Antiquities Act (i.e. monument designations) reform and international trade.

MSGA brought forth tactical ideas to eliminate the threat of Brucellosis expansion beyond Montana’s Designated Surveillance Area (DSA). In a meeting with Dr. T.J. Myers, Associate Deputy Administrator with USDA-APHIS Veterinary Services MSGA requested that Brucella Abortus be removed from the USDA and Center for Disease Control’s select bioterrorism agents list. This would allow for more research to develop a more effective vaccine for bison, elk and cattle. MSGA also requested continued federal funding support for Montana’s DSA implementation but to also develop a renewed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Montana, Wyoming and Idaho along with USDA and the National Park Service that commits to the elimination of brucellosis from the Greater Yellowstone Area. Montana’s DSA is not a long-term solution to brucellosis management.

MSGA met with senior staff on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, chaired by Congressman K. Michael Conaway (R-TX) to discuss possible industry led alternatives to the recently repealed mandatory country of origin labeling of beef. In particular MSGA has policy to work on the development of a comprehensive, broad-based industry led labeling program for U.S. beef.

MSGA has a strong relationship with Montana’s Public Lands Council and Association of State Grazing Districts to work on federal land grazing matters.  MSGA and PLC met with Neil Kornze, Director of BLM, and requested that BLM reconsider the decision to allow year-round bison grazing on Montana’s Flat Creek Allotment located in Phillips County.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was another top priority for MSGA while in D.C. It was universally felt by Montana’s Congressional delegation that a vote on TPP would not happen until after the 2016 election, however MSGA feels that TPP should be a top priority for Congress regardless of political elections. The TPP will remove tariff barriers in some of our major export markets including Japan – one of our largest beef export markets. The TPP is expected to increase cash receipts and net exports from Montana by $86.9 million and $56.6 million per year respectively.

It is vitally important for Montana’s ranching community to have representation in Washington, D.C. and MSGA was very pleased with the outcome of the many high-level meetings that were held with members of Congress and Administration officials. MSGA would also like to thank Senator Tester, Senator Daines and Representative Zinke and their professional staff for their time and commitment to Montana’s cattle and ranching industry.

house ag committee

L to R back row: Senior House Agriculture Commmitte Staff Christine Heggem; Public Lands Council Vicki Olson – Malta, MT; Montana Cattlewomen Wanda Pinnow – Baker, MT; MSGA President Gene Curry – Valier, MT; MSGA Director of Natural Resources Jay Bodner – Helena, MT; MSGA Executive Vice President Errol Rice – Helena, MT. Front row: MSGA 1st Vice President Bryan Mussard – Dillon, MT; MSGA 2nd Vice President Fred Wacker – Miles City, MT.