Under current rules, Brazil can only export thermally processed (cooked) beef to the US, due to longstanding fears over FMD. However, the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has proposed new regulations to allow imports of fresh and frozen Brazilian beef from Bahia, Distrito Federal, Espirito Santo, Goias, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Parana, Rio Grande do Sul, Rio de Janeiro, Rondonia, Sao Paulo, Sergipe, and Tocantis.
APHIS said it had conducted visits to the region and “concluded that Brazil has the veterinary infrastructure in place to detect and effectively eradicate an FMD outbreak if necessary”. It added that imported beef from Brazil would be subject to strict regulations to mitigate the FMD risk “including movement restrictions, inspections, removal of potentially affected parts and a maturation process”.
The publication of the proposed regulation follows a joint statement issued by the Brazilian and US agriculture authorities last month, which outlined plans to tackle beef trade barriers between the two countries. APHIS pointed out that the US Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) would have to approve Brazil as a beef exporting country before trade began.
Risk to US cattle
The proposals have been met with concern by US cattle group R-CALF USA, which pointed out that FMD is still endemic in South America and claimed there was a risk FMD could be reintroduced into the exporting region from neighbouring countries.
The organisation also claimed the introduction of Brazilian beef could drive down cattle prices on the US market.
“APHIS’ proposed rule is irresponsible and will wreak havoc on the economy of rural America that is certain to be harmed both by falling cattle prices and the increased risk of disease introduction,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.
“APHIS’ action is particularly ill-timed given the devastation that Blizzard Atlas recently caused to a wide swath of US cattle operations, where tens of thousands of domestic cattle were killed. Lower cattle prices caused by the proposed rule will make recovery much more difficult for the thousands of cattle producers who lost livestock during the killer blizzard.”
Bullard accused APHIS of “kowtowing” to meat processor JBS, which has operations in both Brazil and the US.