Comments submitted to APHIS March 28
The Cattle Producers of Washington recently responded to potentially catastrophic plan by the U.S. Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service to start importing boxed beef from Brazil to the U.S., despite disease and food contamination issues in the country.
The proposal is available on www.regulations.gov under APHIS-2009-0017.
The proposal would allow chilled or frozen beef from Brazil to enter the US food supply.To submit comments, visit the link and submit your own comments along with your name and address.
Below are the comments CPoW submitted in opposition to the proposal:
This letter is to submit formal comment regarding the importation of beef from Brazil to the United States. The Cattle Producers of Washington are stringently opposed to this proposal due to the threat of Foot and Mouth Disease that could infect American herds. We are also concerned about the risk posed to U.S. consumers from Brazilian beef due to an uninspiring safety record in recent years.
One of the most pressing threats from importing Brazilian beef is the possibility of infecting American beef herds with Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), as Brazil is not currently FMD free. Officials at the Department of Homeland Security’s Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases have warned that FMD is one of the most “contagious agents in the animal kingdom” and poses significant threats to the U.S. food supply.
The U.S. has been free of FMD since 1929. The U.S. had nine outbreaks of the disease between 1870 and 1929, the most serious in 1914, infecting 170,000 cattle, sheep and swine in 3,500 herds. A 1924 outbreak required the slaughter and disposal of 109,000 farm animals and an estimated 22,000 deer. Were these numbers to replicate in modern day livestock herds, the damage would be even more extensive, as it would prevent the export of meat products from the US and put many producers of out of business.
Despite assurances that Brazil has the safeguards in place to send a disease-free product, recent incidents prove otherwise. In 2013, Brazil not only had a BSE positive cow, but failed to report the diseased animal for two days after discovering it. In addition, over 258,000 pounds of cooked beef from Brazil processed at a Chicago plant were recalled in 2010, contaminated with high levels of vermifuge, a drug used to control intestinal worms in cattle.
Arguments for the importation of this dangerous product are short-sighted and bring far more risk than reward. Some have argued that the Brazilian imports would help bolster U.S. beef supplies. Our argument is to let the market adjust itself, allowing American producers who can reliably provide a safe, disease free product to expand to meet demand.
We should not under any circumstances forfeit the health of our livestock industry or the health of consumers by importing product that is proven to be unsafe. Cattle Producers of Washington opposes any importation of Brazilian beef, live or boxed, and demands that Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) reject this flawed proposal.