The US Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is amending its regulations to allow fresh beef into the United States from Brazil and Argentina under specific conditions that mitigate risk of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), the agency said yesterday.
“This is the first step of a process for these regions to gain access to the US market for beef,” said the statement from APHIS.
In the US view, Brazil and Argentina also need to meet food safety standards before being able to export any beef into the country.
APHIS risk assessments indicate that fresh (chilled or frozen) beef can be safely imported, provided certain conditions are met to ensure beef exported to the United States will not harbor the FMD virus.
The USDA will assess their equivalence with US standards through a review of their regulatory programmes as well as an in-country audit of their food safety systems. These rules take effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
Argentina and other food producing countries have long complained about protectionist measures from the US, although the remarks have focused more strongly on agricultural matters, where subsidies for first world farmers are quite common.
The news comes only two weeks after Argentina lifted its ban on Brazilian beef imports, on the same day Brazil announced it would be re-starting its purchase of Argentine pears and apples.
That agreement was seen as key for Brazil because, as the world’s largest beef exporter seeking to enter new markets, Argentina’s question-marks over the health security of their products was slowing down export agreements to other markets.
Brazil’s Agriculture Minister Kátia Abreu expects the United States to start importing fresh Brazilian beef by August and is working to open Japan’s market. The minister said a Chinese delegation would arrive next week to consider approving nine more Brazilian beef plants for export.
Similar opportunities might also open for Argentina.
Date: June 30, 2015