Brazilian cattle, beef OK’d for importation
On Dec. 20, 2013, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced its proposal to allow the importation of cattle and fresh beef from 14 states in Brazil, a country that had been plagued with the most contagious disease known to cattle – foot-and-mouth-disease (FMD).
Brazil’s cattle herd – at 183 million – is more than twice the size of the U.S. cattle herd and is reported to be growing.
APHIS states that domestic cattle prices are expected to decline under its proposal:
“The fall in beef prices and resulting decline in U.S. production would translate into reduced returns for producers in the livestock and beef processing sectors,” APHIS states in its proposed rule.
APHIS further acknowledges that a risk remains for the introduction of FMD into the 14 states the agency wants to certify as eligible to export to the United States:
“APHIS concluded that as long as FMD is endemic in the overall region in South America, there is a risk of reintroduction from adjacent areas into the proposed exporting region,” admitted the agency.
In 2011, Paraguay, which borders Brazil, reported an outbreak of FMD and a Brazilian journalist reported that after the outbreak, Paraguayan cattle were crossing freely into Brazil along a 254-mile stretch of the border and further reported no inspection crews at two border crossings.
Just one year ago, the United States learned that Brazil had failed for two years to provide notification that it had detected a cow with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) that had died in 2010.
“APHIS’ proposed rule is irresponsible and will wreak havoc on the economy of Rural America that is certain to be harmed both by falling cattle prices and the increased risk of disease introduction,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.
“APHIS’ action is particularly ill-timed given the devastation that Blizzard Atlas recently caused to a wide swath of U.S. cattle operations, where tens of thousands of domestic cattle were killed. Lower cattle prices caused by the proposed rule will make recovery much more difficult for the thousands of cattle producers who lost livestock during the killer blizzard,” Bullard added.
“It is clear that APHIS is kowtowing to Brazilian-based JBS, the world’s largest transnational meatpacker that wants to import higher-risk cattle and beef into the United States without regard to the wellbeing of the U.S. cattle industry and the safety of U.S. consumers,” Bullard concluded.