R-CALF USA shares senators’ concerns over Brazil beef
January 31, 2014
In the shadow of Congress' near completion of the long-awaited 2014 Farm Bill, a bipartisan group of eight U.S. Senators called attention to the possible threat of disease introduction resulting from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) proposal to allow fresh and chilled beef imports from Brazil.
In a letter sent last week, the Senators asked Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to extend the public comment period for his agency's proposed rule to allow the importation into the United States of fresh and chilled beef from 14 states in Brazil. The Senators requested the comment period for the proposed rule be extended 60 days beyond the Feb. 21, 2014 comment deadline established by Vilsack.
The Senators stated they "are concerned about the possible risk of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) being brought into the Unites States as a result of imported fresh beef from Brazil."
Senators joining the letter include: John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Daniel Coats (R-Ind.), and Jon Tester (D-Mont.).
"We fully support the Senators' request," said R-CALF USA President Bryan Hanson who added, "But our goal is to stop this rule because we believe the risk of introducing FMD from Brazil is far too high and the likely damage to our U.S. cattle industry far to severe to allow fresh Brazilian beef into the United States at this time."
One of the Senators who joined the extension request also sent his own letter
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to Vilsack. Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) called the proposal to import fresh cuts of beef from Brazil "short-sighted and unlikely to benefit Americans."
Tester wrote that the risk of transmission of FMD in Brazilian fresh beef "is still very real" and that the proposed rule "would only serve to put U.S. ranchers, and to some extent consumers, at risk."
Tester's letter also explained the importance of country of origin labeling (COOL) that has so far survived attacks by the meatpacking lobby to eliminate it in the 2014 Farm Bill:
"If USDA continues to pursue the misguided loosening of meat importation rules, country of origin labeling will at least provide a backstop to consumers and would likely benefit U.S. ranchers forced to compete with cheaper foreign meat," Tester stated.
To submit public comments to USDA regarding the proposed rule:
Go to: http://www.regulations.gov
Type in: APHIS-2009-0017
Click on: Comment Now!
Or the public can mail comments to:
Docket No. APHIS-2009-0017
Regulatory Analysis and Development
PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8
4700 River Road Unit 118
Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.
Although USDA has indicated that it will extend the comment deadline, the current deadline for submitting comments is Feb. 21, 2014.