It’s this exact same zone-based system that Brazil and Argentina want the U.S. government to recognize and adopt. The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has approved regions that have been vaccinated against FMD and are now registered as FMD free. USDA, however, doesn’t accept beef from these regions (with the exception of Uruguay)

This month’s USDA listing of export countries confirmed as FMD-free stood at 53, but only 22 have been given U.S. export access. Another 29 countries have been refused access because they either share a common border with an FMD country or they currently import FMD-country products in one form or another.

Argentina’s frustration is due to OIE’s recognition of the southern Patagonia region as free of FMD without vaccinations since 2003. While the U.S. government has expressed its willingness to accept this region’s beef, it has delayed the authorization.

Provision under WTO has been made for countries like Argentina to argue they meet USDA standards under the sanitary and phytosanitary measures agreement first established when WTO came into being in 1994. This was put in place as a mediation procedure but little progress has been made.

This week, the Argentina Trade Office complained that the U.S. needs to complete the necessary phytosanitary tests (after a decade) so that Argentine meat products can access that market. “It is evident that the impediments imposed on Argentine goods are part of a U.S. protectionist policy inconsistent with the rules of WTO,” the trade office charged.

Russia to approve more Brazilian plants

The desire to access lower beef prices from FMD-based countries is also occurring from Brazil into Russia. Russian veterinary inspectors have just completed another round of meat plant inspections in Brazil with the latest inspections involving 20 meat plants across six Brazilian states.

As of July, the increase in shipments from Brazil to Russia increased by 27.3% (22,952 mt) compared to the same time frame last year. With more plants expected to be approved this quantity is likely to increase dramatically.

Simon Quilty is an Australia-based freelance writer on meat topics and trade.