Argentinian beef not scary
June 9, 2015
Managing Editor & Staff Journalist
Tri-State livestock news
I am writing to you regarding the article entitled: South American beef, anyone? Published on your edition from 30th May 2015 (Volume 53, Issue 1 Front cover and page A11). As a visiting research from Argentina in Wyoming I find it fascinating to understand how beef production systems of United States are becoming more and more competitive. It is of my understanding that the competitiveness of nations relays more and more on transparent information to the costumers. In this sense I would like to provide clearness to the readers about two issues mentioned in the afore-mentioned article. First, it is mentioned that there are risks of foot and mouth disease outbreaks for herds of the United States. As a fourth generation member of beef producers from Argentina, I would like the readers be aware that foot and mouth disease may represent a risk for herds only if live animals or meat plus bone are imported. As stated in the article the imports from Brazil and Argentina will only include "chilled or frozen fresh beef" which are harmless in terms of foot and mouth disease. Second, and regarding the geographical origin of the beef from Argentina, in the article it is stated that beef will come from the northern part of Argentina, from Patagonia. Actually Patagonia represents the most southern end of Argentina, an area with similar features to your north-central great plains. Besides clarifying this miss geographical interpretation, I would like to point readers' attention on Patagonia sanitary status. Regarding foot and mouth disease, Patagonia is different from the rest of Argentina. All the region (40233 mi2) is recognize by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) as a region free of foot and mouth disease where vaccination is not practiced (http://www.oie.int/en/animal-health-in-the-world/official-disease-status/fmd/list-of-fmd-free-members/). As I pointed out at the beginning of this letter transparency and clarity are fundamental pillars for fair world trade. I hope these clarifications may allow readers to better understand the origin of our production in Argentina.
Another letter to the editor, Page A5
from the editor: Thanks for your response to our story!
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Regarding your comment that fresh or frozen beef will be "harmless" in terms of FMD:
An inter-agency working group finalized, in 2001, an FMD risk assessment document. Find it here: http://www.coherentbabble.com/ExecAgencies/deptagriPL107-9.pdf
In a table on Page 6 of the report to Congress our United States Agriculture Department Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) ranks the risk of transmitting FMD from fresh, chilled and frozen meat products as the fourth highest risk pathway, out of the 12 pathways it evaluated. (see graph). Also, page 8 of the GAO report that says the virus can be spread if susceptible animals come in contact with animal products, such as meat, milk, hides, skins, and manure.
It is true that USDA intends to restrict imports to boneless meat as one of several methods that APHIS plans to require to minimize the risk. (See the Northern Argentina Rule). This is also true for the proposed Brazilian rule
In regard to your comment about the geography of your country, we quoted the USDA rule abstract in our story. APHIS refers to the region as "Northern Argentina." (see attached rule and excerpt below). APHIS has already declared Patagonia South and Patagonia North B as free of FMD (and therefore eligible to export to the U.S. See "Notice of Argentina FMD"). So, after the Northern Argentina rule is approved, fresh meat from all of Argentina will be eligible for export to the U.S.
Here is APHIS's summary:
"We are proposing to amend the regulations governing the importation of certain animals, meat, and other animal products to allow, under certain conditions, the importation of fresh (chilled or frozen) beef from a region in Argentina located north of Patagonia South and Patagonia North B, referred to as Northern Argentina. Based on the evidence in a recent risk assessment, we believe that fresh (chilled or frozen) beef can be safely imported from Northern Argentina provided certain conditions are met."
Thank you again for your response to our story. I hope you will contact us again with any futher comments or questions.