USDA Approves Beef Imports from Argentina and Brazil Despite Industry Concern

Image via Flickr.

Image via Flickr.

WASHINGTON – On Monday, June 29, USDA APHIS released their final rules for the Importation of Fresh Beef from Northern Argentina and a Region in Brazil. With this step by the Administration, these areas with a known history of Foot-and-Mouth disease would be allowed to begin the inspection process to import fresh and frozen beef products into the United States. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association stands firmly opposed to this regulation, not on the basis of trade but on the basis of animal health concerns; no trade is worth jeopardizing our herd health.

“FMD is a highly contagious and devastating disease, not just for the cattle industry, but for all cloven-hoofed animals and it can be introduced and spread through the importation of both fresh and frozen products,” said NCBA President and Chugwater, Wyoming, cattleman, Philip Ellis.. In 1929, our industry took profound and personally devastating steps to eradicate this disease and the United States has been FMD free ever since. But the actions of this administration for purely political gain threaten the very viability of our entire industry and threaten hundreds of thousands of American cattle-producing families.”

NCBA has demonstrated through numerous public comments and in person through meetings with staff and members, our concerns regarding the importation of fresh and frozen product from Northern Argentina and these 14 states in Brazil. There is a long history of repeated outbreaks in many of the neighboring South American countries, as well as a history of problems in both Argentina and Brazil with compliance to animal health and food safety regulations. Despite this long history of such an economically devastating animal disease, the Administration did not conduct an objective quantitative risk analysis for this rule, as was performed in 2002 for Uruguay.

The effect of an FMD outbreak in the United States would be devastating to animal agriculture and our entire economy with estimates for total economic losses ranging from $37 billion to $228 billion, depending on the size of an outbreak. Moreover, innumerable losses would occur through the closure of export markets, lost domestic sales, lost opportunities, and a loss of consumer confidence in beef.

USDA APHIS has worked for over 80 years to keep our country free of FMD, now is not the time to give up on that commitment simply to fulfill a political legacy.

Read NCBA’s full release here.

Montana Stockgrowers did submit comments regarding this USDA rule change in 2014.

MSGA supports opening foreign trade relations, utilizing science-based standards to facilitate trade. However, we do not support this proposal for importation of fresh (chilled or frozen), maturated and deboned beef from the specified 14 regions in Brazil into the United States. The risk and potential for catastrophic impact due to the introduction of FMD into U.S. cattle herds is not worth the small amount of trade that would be gained.

With 2.55 million head of cattle, making an economic impact of $1.4 billion annually to the state, the proposed rule will have a large impact, on not only cattle ranchers, but also the well-being of the state of Montana.

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Montana Stockgrowers Association

The Montana Stockgrowers Association, a non-profit membership organization, has worked on behalf of Montana’s cattle ranching families since 1884. Our mission is to protect and enhance Montana ranch families’ ability to grow and deliver safe, healthy, environmentally wholesome beef to the world.

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