The Biden administration was closely criticized Friday after it moved ahead with a plan to permit producers in Paraguay to start importing contemporary beef into America.

On Thursday, the Division of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Well being Inspection Service (APHIS) finalized laws to permit Paraguayan beef imports and issued a sequence of situations importers should meet to make sure livestock illnesses aren’t current in shipped merchandise. Paraguay’s livestock trade has a historical past of foot-and-mouth illness (FMD), which spreads rapidly amongst livestock and will severely threaten the U.S. financial system.

“USDA based mostly their choice to permit beef imports from Paraguay on a deeply flawed threat evaluation that makes use of previous knowledge from website visits that had been carried out greater than 9 years in the past,” mentioned Kent Bacus, the manager director of presidency affairs for the Nationwide Cattlemen’s Beef Affiliation (NCBA), the most important trade group representing U.S. cattle producers. 

“Paraguay has a historical past of FMD outbreaks, and it’s unclear if their inspection system can present an equal stage of security for animal well being to forestall a potential FMD outbreak on U.S. soil,” he continued. “Paraguay closely depends on personal sector funding for many of its FMD mitigation measures, and USDA didn’t contemplate the chance related to Paraguay’s financial downturn over the past a number of years.”


Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack speaks about rising meals costs at a press briefing on the White Home in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 8, 2021. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Photographs)

Bacus added that, whereas Paraguay has for years made making certain its nation’s beef producers have entry to the U.S. market a prime diplomatic precedence, the USDA ought to prioritize security above different pursuits. He additionally argued that dismissing issues voiced by American cattle producers is “unacceptable.”

“Whereas profitable associates and allies in South America could also be a part of the long-term pursuits of U.S. diplomacy, it shouldn’t be executed on the backs of U.S. cattle producers or by placing in danger the well being and livelihood of the most secure and best cattle and beef manufacturing system on the planet,” Bacus mentioned.


In response to a readout of a September assembly between the Paraguayan authorities and the White Home Workplace of america Commerce Consultant, the 2 sides mentioned the method to authorize the import of uncooked beef merchandise and Paraguayan officers expressed their need to renew uncooked beef product commerce “as quickly as potential.”

As well as, Paraguayan cattle trade associations and authorities companies together with the Embassy of Paraguay to america submitted feedback in Could in response to the proposed model of the laws finalized Thursday. The feedback equally urged the USDA to instantly enable beef imports.

Paraguay's President Santiago Peña at the UN general assembly

Paraguayan President Santiago Peña speaks on the United Nations in New York Metropolis on Sept. 19. (AP Picture/Frank Franklin II)

“The exportation of Paraguayan beef to america will profit each Paraguayan and American enterprise and customers with elevated selections for premium beef merchandise,” the Embassy of Paraguay wrote in its submitting. “The Authorities of Paraguay is dedicated to working carefully with U.S. authorities to make sure that all meals security and high quality laws are met, and we’re assured that Paraguayan beef can be an enormous success within the U.S. market.”

Nonetheless, the identical federal rulemaking course of garnered substantial adverse suggestions from the NCBA, regional associates of the group, america Cattlemen’s Affiliation (USCA) and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), which all argued the motion might result in a FMD outbreak within the U.S. — which has been freed from the illness since 1929 — inflicting huge financial harm.


“Farm Bureau coverage opposes the Division’s choice to permit chilled or frozen beef exports from Paraguay into america and recommends the Division withdraw this proposed rule till more moderen and related knowledge could be acquired from the federal government of Paraguay and different related organizations to indicate there is no such thing as a threat of an infectious animal illness outbreak within the U.S. home animal inhabitants,” the AFBF wrote.

Black angus cattle

Cattle graze at a ranch in Blanchard, Oklahoma, on Dec. 2, 2021. (Nick Oxford/Bloomberg by way of Getty Photographs)

The group added that beef exported from Paraguay could also be sourced from different South American international locations like Brazil, Bolivia or Argentina, the place the U.S. has not executed a threat evaluation.

“The U.S. shouldn’t line the pockets of abroad traders or Brazilian meatpacking monoliths on the threat of our personal cattle and beef trade. For all the explanations outlined above, USCA respectfully requests the rescission of this proposed rule,” the USCA added.


“There isn’t a query that Paraguay has a lot to realize by receiving the coveted USDA stamp of approval. There isn’t a doubt that having a USDA endorsement will doubtless make it simpler for Paraguay to realize entry to Canada, Mexico, and Caribbean markets,” the NCBA’s Bacus wrote in a separate letter. 

“However the place is the profit for U.S. customers, and why ought to the U.S. cattle herd be positioned at better threat of FMD? NCBA is enormously involved that the conclusions drawn within the proposed rule are based mostly on outdated info that doesn’t adequately calculate the chance to U.S. customers and the U.S. cattle herd.”

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