USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) wants to allow the importation, under certain conditions, of fresh beef from 14 Brazilian states. The announcement was made in a joint statement by USDA and Brazil's Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food Supply. The statement affirmed the two countries' mutual commitment to science-based rulemaking and the addressing of rules that currently limit bilateral beef trade.

The proposed regulation changes would allow the importation of chilled or frozen beef, while continuing to protect the U.S. from an introduction of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), USDA says. Due to long-standing concerns over FMD, only thermally processed beef (cooked) from Brazil has been allowed into the U.S. The designated export region is composed of the Brazilian states of 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 says that in response to a request from the Brazilian government that fresh (chilled or frozen) beef be allowed to be imported into the U.S. The agency says it conducted a risk analysis of the proposed exporting region regarding the status of FMD and found that "Brazil has the infrastructure and emergency response capabilities adequate to effectively contain FMD in the event of an outbreak, as well as meet all other import requirements. In order for imports to resume following an outbreak, Brazil would have to certify that the beef does not originate in any area that has been placed under restriction for FMD until 12 months after the last case in the area has been eradicated."

In a regulatory impact analysis published in April, USDA estimated that annual imports of fresh (chilled or frozen) beef from Brazil are expected to range between 20,000 and 65,000 metric tons (MT), with volumes averaging 40,000 MT. The model indicates that about two-thirds of the beef imported from Brazil would displace beef that would otherwise be imported from other countries, APHIS says.

"The model shows that if the U.S. were to import 40,000 MT of beef from Brazil, total U.S. beef imports would increase by less than 1%. Due to the increase in supply, it is estimated that the wholesale price of beef, the retail price of beef, and the price of cattle (steers) would decline by 0.11%, 0.04%, and 0.14%, respectively."

APHIS says the imported beef would be "subject to regulations that would mitigate the risk of FMD introduction, including movement restrictions, inspections, removal of potentially affected parts and a maturation process. Prior to actual importation of beef from these Brazilian states, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) must also determine Brazil as eligible to export fresh/frozen beef products after a final regulation by APHIS has been published."

FMD is a highly contagious viral disease of cloven-hoofed animals that is only rarely transmitted to humans. APHIS says the U.S. has "a strong system in place for detecting and responding to outbreaks of foreign animal diseases, including FMD, and places restrictions on affected regions to protect against the introduction of diseases of concern. All imported meat and meat products must follow USDA’s FSIS regulations for food safety and labeling."

The proposal is expected to be published in the Dec. 23, 2013 Federal Register. Consideration will be given to comments received on or before Feb. 21, 2014. Comments can be submitted to: 

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal
  • Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Send your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2009-0017, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.

Supporting documents and any comments we receive on this docket may be viewed online or in our reading room, which is located in room 1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th Street and Independence Ave., SW., Washington, DC, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. To facilitate entry into the comment reading room, please call (202) 690-2817.

 

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