Russia, which has accounted for 22% of Brazil’s 2012 export volume (235,108 mt) and 20% of the value ($984.5 million), has announced no plans to suspend trade. Neither has No. 2 market Hong Kong, where exports totaled 150,807 mt valued at $565.7 million.

Initial media reports stated that Egypt had suspended imports of beef products originating from the Brazilian state of Parana, where the BSE case was found. However, Brazilian officials later clarified that Egypt had imposed no new restrictions. Egypt is Brazil’s third-largest market in terms of both volume (128,222 mt) and value ($510.4 million).

Some in the U.S. beef industry, which endured billions of dollars in lost exports after the 2003 BSE case, are understandably frustrated by the relatively mild reaction Brazil’s first case has received. In this situation, however, it’s important to take a long-term view rather than dwell on the past.

A Closer Look: BSE Sanctions Costing U.S. Billions

“I can understand why some beef producers may feel Brazil is getting off easy by comparison,” says Thad Lively, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) senior vice president for trade access. “But this is really a reflection of how far the world has come in its understanding of BSE, and it shows that trading partners are taking a more science-based approach when a case is detected. From that standpoint, it’s really positive news for any beef-exporting country.”

Brazil’s BSE risk classification not expected to change

Brazil has received a negligible risk classification for BSE from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and isn’t expected to lose this status. It is USMEF’s understanding that the U.S., which is currently classified as controlled risk for BSE, will seek a negligible risk classification from the OIE in the near future.

“With all the safeguards employed by the beef industry, great strides have been made in reducing the presence of BSE worldwide,” Lively says. “But atypical cases like the one in Brazil, and the case found in California back in April, are something the industry still faces from time to time. Thankfully, the negative impact on trade is not nearly what it would have been a decade ago.”

 Editor's note: All 2012 export totals are through November and based on Global Trade Atlas data.