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Agriculture Today

Cattle raisers oppose proposal that could put U.S. cattle at risk

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April 30, 2014 | 5,320 views | Post a comment

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association submitted comments April 22 in opposition to a recent proposal by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Animal Plant Health Inspection Service that could put the U.S. cattle herd at a greater risk of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).

The government has proposed a rule that would allow for the importation of fresh, maturated, deboned beef from a region in Brazil into the United States.

According to Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers President Pete Bonds, Brazil has a long history with FMD and lacks strict control measures to properly mitigate the risk of FMD into the United States should certain types of fresh beef be imported.

“Protecting the U.S. cattle industry from a catastrophic foreign animal disease like FMD is a major priority for TSCRA [Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers],” said Bonds. “And although we certainly support free trade with foreign countries that have a proven history of controlling animal diseases, we do not believe Brazil has met, and can consistently guarantee, the standards necessary to keep FMD out of the United States.”

Bonds said that many beef producers in Texas and the Southwest remember all too clearly the devastating effects of FMD the last time it was in the United States in 1929.

“Given the extreme level of uncertainty surrounding Brazil’s ability to control FMD, and the fact that our national cattle herd is at its lowest since the 1950s, we simply cannot afford to take this large of a risk,” Bond said.

In addition to the risk analysis the U.S. Department of Agriculture conducted for the Brazil rule, they also requested public comment on an evaluation that would serve as a decision-making tool to determine whether and under what conditions to allow imports of fresh meat and live animals from the Patagonia region of Argentina to the United States.

The cattle raisers are opposed to both U.S. Department of Agriculture --Animal Plant Health Inspection Service risk analyses for Brazil and Argentina based upon third-party scientific reviews that acknowledged issues with both risk assessments.

Bonds said that Brazil and Argentina’s trend of compliance problems and deficiencies with routine U.S. Department of Agriculture and European Commission food safety audits also present concern. Additionally, the U.S. inspection service has conducted a number of site visits to verify animal health and disease information; however, the reviews appear to lack transparency since the full results of these site visits have not yet been made public.

“The fact is that neither of these regions can prove they’ve successfully and continually eradicated FMD,” said Bonds. “That’s a huge red flag for U.S. cattle producers.”

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