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Cattle Group Supports Legislation Suspending Brazilian Beef Imports; Says More Legislation Needed
Billings, Mont. – R-CALF USA today announced its strong support for legislation introduced yesterday by Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) that suspends imports of all beef and beef products from Brazil to the United States until a determination is made that Brazilian beef exports comply with United States beef import requirements. The bill number is S.3230.
Tester’s introduction of S.3230 follows formal requests to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack by R-CALF USA, other cattle groups, and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) urging Vilsack to exercise his authority to immediately suspend imports of Brazilian beef.
The legislation and requests for suspension are based on Brazil’s repeated failures to report outbreaks of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease) in Brazil’s cattle herd. Brazil failed to timely report such outbreaks in 2010 (notification was not made until 2012), 2014, 2019, and in June of this year when two new BSE-infected cattle were detected by Brazilian authorities.
Brazil has a history of other serious beef safety infractions, including the widely reported beef export scandal in early 2017 in which Brazil was found to be exporting rotten and tainted beef. The scandal eventually led to then Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue’s decision to impose only a partial suspension of beef imports from Brazil. That suspension only applied to fresh beef and not pre-cooked beef, and the partial suspension did not occur until several months after the scandal was disclosed.
“What’s been clear in our years-long relationship with Brazil is that its government cannot be trusted to comply with United States’ beef import requirements. What is equally clear is that our Agriculture Secretaries are slow to respond, and may only partially respond, to known food safety threats,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.
He said this explains the critical importance of decisive congressional action such as that initiated by Senator Tester to suspend all beef imports, but he said even that is not enough.
“Consumers deserve the opportunity to choose whether to continue purchasing beef from countries with sordid food safety histories, both before our slow-acting government eventually responds to infractions and after it concludes that the offending country’s corrective actions are good enough.
“Consumers can only be empowered to exercise their right to choose if Congress first enacts the American Beef Labeling Act of 2021 (S.2716) that requires beef sold in grocery stores to be labeled as to where the animal was born, raised, and harvested.”
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R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America) is the largest producer-only lobbying and trade association representing U.S. cattle producers. It is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. Visitwww.r-calfusa.comor, call 406-252-2516 for more information.