Beef shipments to China have been closed since a 2006 outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in Argentina.

However, prospects for beef trade are limited due to higher Chinese demand for pork, chicken and other meats. Argentine beef sales will likely focus on offal and high-grade beef cuts for hotels and restaurants.

The news of the trade accord comes on the heels of announcements that China’s largest farming company, Heilongjiang Beidahuang Nongken Group, inked a joint venture with Argentina’s Cresud SA to buy land and farm soybeans.

Cresud is one of Argentina’s top agriculture firms with control over more than 1 million hectares (2.47 million acres) of farmland that produce grain, cattle and milk.

Brazil is setting up an animal-welfare commission as it seeks to meet requirements to expand access to food markets in Europe and elsewhere.


The commission will train professionals in livestock production and propose technical recommendations to improve industry practices as overseas markets such as the European Union increasingly monitor the well-being of farm animals in Brazil.

As the Japanese government moved in July to impose a ban on beef shipments from areas near the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant after finding 637 cattle were fed hay containing radioactive cesium, they admitted some contaminated beef may have been exported.

“We cannot completely rule out the possibility that contaminated beef was sold abroad,” said Yuichi Imasaki, deputy director of the farm ministry’s meat and egg division.

He added that the chances are very low because most countries tightened rules on Japanese beef imports or banned them after the earthquake and tsunami wrecked the Fukushima Dai-Ichi power station, causing the worst nuclear fallout since Chernobyl.

Concerns about food contamination before the mid-July ban cut beef exports by 16 percent, while hotels and restaurants in the region, including Shangri-La Asia’s luxury chain, dropped Japanese seafood from their menu.

Japanese beef prices plunged over 50 percent in Tokyo trading immediately following news of the possible contamination amid widespread anxiety over the exposure of cows to the radioactive cesium, Kyodo News reported.

The traditional profile of the Paraguayan cattle-raiser has gradually and systematically changed over the past five years.

During that time about 20,000 new producers have come into the sector – a result of the investments of entrepreneurs, lawyers and engineers in cattle-raising.

Many of the newcomers are Brazilians, bringing in modern and innovative cattle-raising concepts, launching one of the largest investment sectors in the country.

“Cattle-raising is one of the sectors leading the entire development of Paraguay,” said the adviser of Asociación Rural Del Paraguai, Marcos Medina.

With heavy alliances in Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, Paraguay’s agricultural sector is gaining global prominence.

Medina said the image of cattle-raising was strengthened by the OIE statement in 2009 that the country’s beef production sanitation system is reliable.

The cattle-raising chain accounts for 12.2 percent of the country’s gross national product (GNP) and 20 percent of Paraguay’s exports.

Boosted by agriculture, Paraguay’s overall economy grew an all-time record of 15.3 percent in 2010, following a 3.8 percent contraction in 2009, according to the latest release from the central bank.

United Kingdom
The minimum age for BSE testing of healthy cattle slaughtered for human consumption increased July 1, to 72 months following a risk assessment by the European Food Safety Authority.

This raises the testing age from 48 months, which has been in effect for nearly a decade. Agriculture minister Simon Coveney said his agency was able to change the age limit because of the significant fall in the number of BSE cases in the United Kingdom since the peak in 2003.

There have only been three cases of BSE-infected cattle across the UK this year. This is compared to its annual peak of nearly 37,000 cases in 1992. A total of 183,841 cases of BSE have been reported in the UK since scientists identified the disease in 1986.

NFU livestock board chairman Alistair Mackintosh said consumer safety is always of paramount importance to livestock producers.

“And in relation to BSE, we have understood the need for strict controls in the past,” he said. “However, the time is right to move to a more science-based level of protection.

As producers, we want to see regulations which are risk-based and that use up-to-date scientific evidence.”

The Europe Food Standards Authority opinion also supports the view that increasing the testing age will not adversely affect human health.  end_mark

Clint Peck is the owner of Global Beef Systems, LLC. Contact him at