USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has approved amended rules allowing fresh (chilled or frozen) beef from two regions in South America that were under FMD restrictions, calling it “the first step in a process for these regions to gain access to the U.S. market.”

Cooper david
Managing Editor / Progressive Cattle

The two regions are the Patagonia region of northern Argentina and also the Brazilian states of Bahia, Distrito Federal, Espirito Santo, Goias, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Parana, Rio Grande so Sul, Rio de Janeiro, Rondonia, Sao Paulo, Sergibe and Tocantis.

Risk assessments done by APHIS deemed the beef safe for import provided certain conditions are met to prevent the FMD virus. The beef will follow the same import conditions placed on fresh beef and ovine meat from Uruguay.

The new USDA rules did not gain any support from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), which issued a statement criticizing the potential threat the move has upon animal health.

“The arrogance of this administration in continuing to press forward with rules that have a profound impact on industry, without consulting those affected, is appalling,” says NCBA President Philip Ellis. “FMD is a highly contagious and devastating disease, not just for the cattle industry, but for all cloven-hoofed animals, and it can be introduced and spread through the importation of both fresh and frozen products. In 1929, our industry took profound and personally devastating steps to eradicate this disease, and the United States has been FMD free ever since. But 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.”


Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter also criticized the move, saying it ignored health risks from the region.

“APHIS is, in effect, thumbing its nose at members of Congress who requested that the U.S. Government Accountability Office conduct a study of the two proposed rules. That study has not been completed. These two rules were considered ‘significant’ by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). APHIS transmitted those rules to OMB on May 22, 2015. They were released on June 26. OMB can take up to 90 days to review ‘significant’ rules, but it rushed through the process. Food & Water Watch met with the OMB staff on June 12, arguing against the approval of the two final rules.”

Hauter echoed political criticism of the move, saying its timing was suspect given it unfolded just as Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was scheduled to meet with President Obama.

The rule takes effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.  end mark