Two United States Senators have renewed calls for a suspension of US beef imports from Brazil until regulators can conduct a “systemic review of the commodity’s impacts on food safety and animal health.”
Democrat Senator Jon Tester and Republican Mike Rounds, on Friday reintroduced their bipartisan Senate bill to suspend Brazilian beef imports, claiming Brazil has a history of failing to report, in a timely and accurate manner, diseases found in their herds.
The Senators’ move follows the latest detection this week of a suspected atypical BSE case in a Brazilian cow in the northern state of Para.
“This poses a significant threat to both American producers and consumers. Consumers should be able to confidently feed their families beef that has met the rigorous standards required in the US. Our bipartisan legislation would make certain Brazilian beef is safe to transport and eat before it is brought into our markets, neutralizing Brazil’s deceptive trade tactics,” the pair said in a joint statement.
The senators noted that they first introduced the bill in November 2021 after Brazil detected two previous cases of atypical BSE.
“Most countries report similar cases to the World Organisation of Animal Health (WOAH, previously known as OIE) immediately — with both the United Kingdom and Germany reporting their own cases within days of their occurrence. But Brazil reported its 2021 cases more than two months after the fact, breaking trust with the WOAH and global trading partners,” they said.
“This has been a routine occurrence, with Brazil also waiting months or even years to report similar cases in 2019, 2014, and 2012,” they said.
The US senators said Brazil enjoyed preferential beef market access on the global stage due to the country’s OIE designation as a ‘Negligible risk” exporter.
While rare, one-off instances of atypical BSE did not necessarily indicate systemic issues with the health of Brazilian cattle herds, the senators said, but repeated delays in reporting suggested an overly lax food safety regime.
It raised concerns about the reporting of additional dangerous diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease, African Swine Fever and Avian Influenza.
“Folks shouldn’t have to worry about whether the products they buy at the grocery store are safe to eat, and that’s why we need to halt Brazilian beef imports until Brazilian producers can prove that their products meet our health and safety standards,” Sen Tester said.
“I’ll take on anyone, at home and abroad, to ensure that (US) producers aren’t cut out of the market by foreign corporations who aren’t following the rules.”
“Producer’s livelihoods are being compromised by Brazilian beef imports that fail to meet our country’s food safety and animal health standards.”
The Senators’ legislation is supported by the US Cattlemen’s Association, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and R-CALF USA.
Brazilian beef has made significant inroads into the US imported beef market over the past 12 months, partly in the absence of Australian product.
However it faces a significant price challenge later this year due to quota restrictions.
Unlike Australia which has its own large US tariff-free quota, Brazilian imports fall under the “Other Country” US quota of just 65,000t, which at current rates is expected to fill some time in April. After that, Brazilian beef destined for the US for the rest of the year will attract a full out-of-quota tariff of 26.4pc.
Just politics. They know nothing about Brazil’s animal health sistem. It’s jus t an economic issue disguised as a health issue.