Last Friday, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) called on Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to immediately suspend all imports of fresh beef from Brazil to the United States.
In the letter to USDA, NCBA asked for a suspension until the agency conducts a thorough risk assessment and review of the processes that Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food Supply uses to detect disease and other threats to consumers. NCBA also urged USDA to review Brazil’s veterinary diagnostic laboratory system.
“It’s time to keep Brazilian fresh beef out of this country until USDA can confirm that Brazil meets the same consumer and food safety standards that we apply to all our trade partners,” said NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane.
Lane said, “NCBA has long expressed concerns about Brazil’s history of failing to report atypical BSE cases in a timely manner, a pattern that stretches back as far as 2012. Their poor track record and lack of transparency raises serious doubts about Brazil’s ability to produce cattle and beef at an equivalent level of safety as American producers. If they cannot meet that bar, their product has no place here.
Then on Monday, R-CALF USA sent a letter to Secretary Vilsack stating it agreed with the NCBA’s call for the suspension of all imports of fresh beef from Brazil to the U.S.
But, unlike NCBA’s request for a suspension that only applies to fresh beef, R-CALF USA’s request is more expansive. They are seeking an immediate suspension of imports of all beef products, both fresh and pre-cooked, pending a U.S. investigation into Brazil’s food safety system and its veterinary diagnostic laboratory system.
The ranch group explains that the more expansive suspension is needed because beef-related heat processes are not capable of inactivating the BSE prion, and it is Brazil’s non-compliance with BSE reporting requirements that prompted the suspension request. R-CALF USA’s letter states “all imports of all beef potentially subject to BSE contamination must be suspended.”