Statement from NCBA President Regarding APHIS Proposed Rule to Allow Importation of Beef from a Region in Argentina
The United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Inspection Service published a proposed rule in the Federal Register today to allow the importation of beef from a region in Argentina. National Cattlemen's Beef Association President Bob McCan, cattleman from Victoria, Texas, issued the following statement:
"The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is deeply concerned by today’s announcement by the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to add the Patagonia areas of Argentina to the list of regions considered free of Foot-and-Mouth disease and to subsequently allow the importation of live cattle and fresh or frozen beef into the United States from this region. Our extreme concern is only further magnified by the associated proposed rule to allow chilled or frozen beef to be imported from the region of Northern Argentina. Northern Argentina is a region that is not recognized as being free of Foot-and-Mouth Disease by APHIS. We strongly believe that these recent actions by APHIS present a significant risk to the health and well-being of the nation’s cattle herd through the possible introduction of FMD virus.
"FMD is an extremely contagious viral disease of cloven-hooved animals and many wildlife species. This disease is considered to be one of the most economically devastating livestock diseases in the world and an outbreak of FMD could ultimately threaten the entire U.S. economy as well jeopardize our national food security.
"APHIS conducted their risk analysis based on a series of site visits to Argentina to determine the FMD risk status of these regions. NCBA’s repeated requests for written reports for these APHIS site visits to Argentina have gone unanswered. Finally, we were informed by APHIS that written reports are not required for APHIS site reviews. This lack of documentation and an obvious lack of management controls for the site review process calls into question the integrity and quality assurance for the entire risk analysis. Valid science-based decisions are not possible in this flawed system.
"It is evident that APHIS has charged blindly forward in making this announcement, ignoring the findings of a third-party scientific review identifying major weaknesses in the methodology of the risk analysis that formed the foundation for the APHIS decision-making process. The third-party scientific review uncovered deficiencies in the APHIS hazard analysis and the exposure assessment, as well as an overly subjective qualitative format for the risk analysis.
"NCBA remains committed to supporting open trade markets, level playing fields, and utilizing science-based standards to facilitate international trade. At the same time, no amount of trade is worth sacrificing the health and safety of the United States cattle herd. Strict transparency for the adherence to sound science must be the basis for all animal health decisions of this magnitude."