Due to a Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) situation in Argentina, U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is placing a temporary hold on all meat and meat products from Argentina.

According to Joseph Annelli, an APHIS veterinarian, a small number of cattle were illegally imported into Argentina from Paraguay. The cattle were vaccinated in Paraguay, but the Argentinean government considers the cattle to have been exposed to FMD because Paraguay is not FMD free.

As a result, the illegally imported animals, and all cattle that came into contact with them (approximately 3,000 head in all), were depopulated. Annelli says APHIS found no clinical signs of FMD in any of the cattle depopulated.

Argentina has closed its borders with Paraguay. Brazil also closed its Paraguyaan borders.

In a statement on the U.S. ban on Argentinean beef imports, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association says it supports the USDA decision to stop U.S. imports of beef from Argentina until the disease incident is more widely understood. USDA's quick response in halting Argentine beef imports and the notification Argentina provided to the U.S. shows the Argentines are cooperating, says NCBA.

Canada also has halted imports of beef from Argentina, and Argentina has agreed to voluntarily halt exports to other Western Hemisphere countries.

Argentina has been eligible to ship fresh, chilled and frozen beef to the U.S. from regions declared free of FMD since 1997.

The U.S. has set Argentina's import quota at 20,000 metric tons. So far this year, the country has filled about half the quota. Before this incident, the country was expected to fill the quota.

Ryan's guaranteed tender beef I enjoyed your July issue article about Nolan Ryan's Tender Aged Beef ("More Than A Name," page 28). The article by Doug Perkins was timely, factual and well presented.

Someone finally has realized that our grading system does not reflect the consumer's preference. It never was intended to do so, but it certainly has been promoted as such. The article also demonstrates that the right kind of American Brahman influence in not a handicap, but an asset.