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Ag groups weigh in on Brazilian beef ban

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the suspension of all fresh beef imports from Brazil.

The suspension, yesterday, stems from recurring food safety and animal health concerns. USDA said the suspension of shipments will remain until the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture can assume satisfactory corrective action. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said ensuring the safety of the nation’s food supply is one of the USDA’s critical missions.

“Although international trade is an important part of what we do at USDA, and Brazil has long been one of our partners, my first priority is to protect American consumers,” Perdue said. “That’s what we’ve done by halting the import of Brazilian fresh beef. I commend the work of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service for painstakingly safeguarding the food we serve our families.”

House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (TX-11) said U.S. consumers enjoy the safest food supply in the world and, like Sec. Perdue, is committed to keeping it that way.

“Halting imports of fresh beef from Brazil is an appropriate and necessary measure as Brazilian officials work to assess and correct the situation, and gives U.S. officials time to develop a better understanding of the magnitude of the problem and acceptable solutions,” Conaway said. “I am thankful for the secretary’s swift response and for the continued work of the folks at USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service to protect the food we eat.”

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has inspected 100 percent of all meat products in the United States from Brazil since March. FSIS has refused entry of 11 percent of Brazilian fresh beef products. As a result of increased inspection, FSIS has refused entry to 106 lots, approximately 1.9 million pounds, of Brazilian beef products due to public health concerns, sanitary conditions and animal health issues.

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson applauded USDA’s decision to suspend the importation of fresh Brazilian beef, and urged them to avoid similar circumstances in the future by following more rigorous importation standards.

“We’ve long had concerns about the importation of fresh beef from Brazil,” Johnson said. “Since the 2015 repeal of Country-Of-Origin Labeling (COOL), food safety scandals can undermine consumer confidence in the entire beef industry, harming American producers’ bottom line. This incident underscores the importance of COOL to protect American beef producers and consumers alike.”

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Craig Uden said his organization supports USDA’s commitment to science-based trade and its commitment to keeping the American food supply safe.

“NCBA supports the action taken by Secretary Perdue to suspend fresh beef imports from Brazil,” Uden said. “This action is the result of USDA’s strong, science-based testing protocol of imported beef and proves that our food safety system works effectively.”

The Brazilian government had previously pledged to address the aforementioned concerns, including by self-suspending five facilities from shipping beef to the United States. Yesterday’s action to suspend all fresh beef shipments from Brazil supersedes the self-suspension.