SDFU encourages USDA to maintain ban on Brazilian beef

Farm Forum

HURON — South Dakota Farmers Union submitted comments discouraging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) from allowing the importation of beef from states in Brazil with a history of foot and mouth disease (FMD).

“We strongly oppose the proposal to allow the importation of fresh beef from 14 Brazilian states which have a history of foot and mouth disease,” said Doug Sombke, President of South Dakota Farmers Union (SDFU).

Inconsistencies between animal health disclosures reported by APHIS and the World Organization for Animal Health further erode SDFU’s confidence in the safety of beef imports from countries with a history of FMD presence and a poor food safety record. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recalled Brazilian cooked and canned meat on three occasions in 2010 due to drug contamination.

“Our first priority needs to be to U.S. cattle producers and the U.S. consumer. If importation is resumed, consumers may fear the safety of their beef supply. History has shown the damage that even rumors of a contaminated beef supply has on U.S. cattle producers,” Sombke said. “American consumers can depend upon U.S. producers for a safe food supply. We cannot jeopardize this trust by importing beef from countries that have a history of unresolved foot and mouth disease.”

As of Jan. 1, South Dakota is currently home to 3.65 million cattle, according to USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. Sombke said SDFU members strongly discourage the USDA from putting our cattle market at risk from Brazilian imports.

“The economic costs of an FMD outbreak in the United States would be tremendous,” said Sombke, pointing to a 2002 study which looked at the economic impact of the 2001 epidemic in the U.K. At that time, the study showed a loss of $14 billion in U.S. farm income.