US - US farmers have hit out at the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) proposal to allow imports of beef from several states in Brazil with a recent history of unresolved foot and mouth disease (FMD).
National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson said: “As we’ve seen in the past, consumer confidence in the safety of our food supply is easily jeopardized by even rumoured threats.
“NFU’s family farmer- and rancher-driven policy is clear on this issue: livestock, animal protein products and meat imports from countries with a history of FMD and other infectious livestock diseases put the entire US livestock industry at risk due to the very real possibility of transmission of FMD to US livestock.
“APHIS must maintain the current ban on importation of fresh beef from Brazil.”
Inconsistencies between animal health disclosures reported by APHIS and the World Organization for Animal Health further erode NFU’s confidence in the safety of beef imports from countries with a history of FMD presence and a poor food safety record.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalled Brazilian cooked and canned meat on three occasions in 2010 due to drug contamination.
The economic costs of an FMD outbreak in the United States would be tremendous.
A 2002 study found that if an epidemic similar to the outbreak that occurred in the UK in 2001 were to strike the United States, a loss of $14 billion in US farm income (in 2002 dollars) would result.
This includes costs of quarantine and eradication of animals, a ban on exports, and reduced consumer confidence. In addition, the disease could spread to any cloven-hoofed animals, endangering other domestic livestock like sheep or pigs, and wild deer and antelope that form the basis of the US hunting industry.
“US farmers and ranchers are known throughout the world for our long-standing disease prevention efforts and high food safety standards. USDA must not endanger this reputation, or consumers’ safety, for the sake of cheap imported food,” Mr Johnson said.
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