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article imageWhere's the beef? House committee votes to stop Argentine beef

By Karen Graham     Jul 9, 2015 in Food
On Wednesday, the news came out that the U.S.was lifting a 14-year-old ban on beef from Argentina and 14 states in Brazil. The ban was put in place after an outbreak of foot and-mouth-disease in the country in 2001.
According to CNN on Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service released a statement on June 29, 2015 amending its previous regulations, allowing the importation of the previously banned beef.
The amended regulations will allow the importing of fresh (chilled or frozen) beef from northern Argentina and 14 states in Brazil. The government agency said the countries must adhere to "specific conditions that mitigate the risk of foot-and-mouth disease."
In the statement, the USDA also said: "This is the first step of a process for these regions to gain access to the U.S. market for beef. Brazil and Argentina also need to meet food safety standards prior to being able to export any beef to the United States."
According to the USDA statement, they say that beef can safely be imported from the countries in question if certain conditions are met first. The countries also have to meet import certification requirements, as well as U.S. food safety standards. The USDA further says they will assure these standards are being met by a review of the regulatory programs as well as an in-country audit of their food safety systems.
U.S. beef industry is not thrilled about USDA move
The National Cattlemen's Beef Association says it opposes the new regulations over animal health concerns. "No trade is worth jeopardizing our herd health," it said.
Association president Phillip Ellis feels that U.S. beef producers are being threatened. "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," he said.
Chase Adams, the communications director for the organization, told CNN they are concerned about the health guarantee process covering Argentine beef. "Foot-and-mouth disease is a highly transmissible and highly concerning disease. The smallest outbreak in any of our herds would cost the industry gravely," he said.
The USDA shot back, saying the regulations are based on sound science and thorough risk assessment. "We will only make decisions to allow imports when sufficient protective safeguards are in place," spokeswoman Joelle Hayden said Wednesday in an email to CNN. "The United States will require conditions are met so that exported beef will not harbor the disease."
U.S. House of Representatives committee votes to stop imports of beef
Just a few hours ago, 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 USDA evaluates the risk of foot-and-mouth disease on the U.S. beef industry.
The amendment stops the importation of beef from the Patagonia region of Argentina, and 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.
Without a doubt, the U.S. beef industry has spoken behind the scenes, and someone has heard. It was estimated in 2014 by association vice president of Government Affairs, Colin Woodall that an outbreak of FMD would cost the industry between $5 billion and $50 billion.
North Dakota Stockmen's Association President Steve Brooks, a Bowman, N.D., rancher, said, "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."
More about Argentina, Brazil, USDA, beef imports, Foot and mouth disease
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