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Failing to Heed NMPF Concerns, USDA Okays Beef Imports from Argentina and Brazil

July 12, 2015

Failing to heed NMPF concerns about an earlier risk assessment, the Agriculture Department in late June updated its rules to allow imported fresh beef from northern Argentina and 14 states in Brazil. The rules, which allow the imports under conditions that mitigate Foot and Mouth Disease risks, will become final in late summer or early fall.

NMPF had expressed concerns over a risk assessment performed by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service that indicated the beef could be imported safely. It urged that APHIS conduct a separate quantitative risk assessment similar to one used for importing similar products from Uruguay.   

NMPF Vice President for Sustainability and Scientific Affairs Jamie Jonker expressed disappointment that the department did not strengthen the risk analysis. “This demonstrates the need to enhance U.S. Foot and Mouth Disease preparedness, including modernization of the North American FMD vaccine bank with appropriate types and quantities available for use in an FMD outbreak,” Jonker said.  

In light of concerns raised by NMPF and other farm groups, the House Appropriations Committee voted last week to stop the USDA from lifting the beef ban. The provision – part of the annual agriculture appropriations bill still pending in Congress – wouldn’t permanently stop the department from lifting the ban. It would require the USDA to perform another comprehensive risk analysis on FMD in Brazil and Argentina, make visits to both countries and submit a report to Congress before changing the ban.