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Published July 09, 2015, 03:01 PM

House Committee votes to stop Brazilian, Argentine beef over FMD risk

The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee approved an amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations bill that would ban the importation of Brazilian and Argentine Beef until the U.S. Department of Agriculture evaluates the potential risk of foot and mouth disease to the U.S. cattle industry.

By: Staff Report, Agweek

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee approved an amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations bill that would ban the importation of Brazilian and Argentine Beef until the U.S. Department of Agriculture evaluates the potential risk of foot and mouth disease to the U.S. cattle industry.

This amendment was adopted just one week after USDA announced it was allowing the importation of beef from the Brazilian states of Bahia, Brasilia, Espirito Santo, Goias, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Parana, Rio Grande do Sul, Rio de Janeiro, Rondonia, Sao Paulo, Sergipe and Tocantins.

In Argentina, beef will be imported from the Patagonia region of the country.

The decision was made despite concerns over potential threats of foot-and-mouth (FMD) disease to U.S. cattle. In April 2014, Colin Woodall, vice president of Government Affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, estimated the affect of an FMD outbreak in the U.S. to range from $5 billion to $50 billion.

“Foot-and-mouth disease remains a problem for the Brazilian and Argentine beef industry and this amendment will ensure FMD doesn’t threaten the US cattle Industry,” says Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D. “The potential FMD threat requires Congressional action to protect our ranchers from this ill-advised decision by the Obama administration. My hope is the decision to allow beef imports from Brazil was not driven by embarrassment over the revelation the U.S. spied on Brazilian officials as some have speculated.”

North Dakota Stockmen's Association President Steve Brooks, a Bowman, N.D., rancher, says, "We are pleased with the House's action today, because the rules have serious implications for the U.S. beef industry related to foot and mouth disease. Considered one of the most contagious diseases in the world, introduction of FMD here would pose serious animal health concerns and devastate not only our livestock industry, but our nation's economy."

In 2014, the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association opposed the proposal to import beef from the Patagonia region of Argentina over FMD concerns. The NDSA cited concerns about “the incomplete and undocumented site reviews USDA conducted to prepare this information and the lack of a quantitative analysis of the data.”

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