After a more than 2-year halt, the United States has reopened its market for Brazilian fresh beef imports. The Brazilian Agriculture Ministry made the announcement on Friday afternoon.
The U.S. opened its border to Brazilian beef in 2016, but the market was closed only a few months later following an investigation into corruption that involved Brazil’s health inspectors and meat companies as well as public health concerns, sanitary conditions and animal health issues.
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Senior Director, International Trade and Market Access, Kent Bacus released the following statement in response to the announcement:
“NCBA strongly supports science-based trade and the Trump Administration’s efforts to enforce science-based trade with all trade partners. But to be clear, NCBA has serious concerns about the re-entry of Brazilian beef to the U.S. market.
“NCBA has frequently questioned the lack of scientific evidence that was used to justify Brazil’s initial access to the U.S. market in 2016, and unfortunately, we were not surprised when Brazil forfeited its beef access to the U.S. in 2017 due to numerous food safety violations. NCBA praised Secretary Perdue for standing up for science-based trade and holding Brazil accountable for their numerous violations by suspending Brazil’s access and subjecting Brazil to undergo a thorough science-based inspection and audit process. It is evident that USDA believes that Brazil has addressed the concerns raised in the audit process, and steps will soon be taken to restore Brazil’s access to the United States.
“Given Brazil’s history of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and its track record of repeated food safety violations at ports-of-entry, you can rest assured that NCBA will keep an eagle eye focus on all developments with Brazil and we expect nothing less than the highest level of scrutiny from USDA and customs officials. Should Brazil continue to have food safety or animal health issues, we expect the U.S. government, including Capitol Hill, to take all necessary and immediate action to protect U.S. consumers and U.S. beef producers.
“The re-entry of Brazilian beef to the U.S. market only further exacerbates concerns about the use of “Product of USA” labels on beef sold in the United States. As the trusted leader and definitive voice of the U.S. beef industry, NCBA will continue leading conversations with USDA and the entire supply chain to address any labels that may allow imported beef to carry a “Product of USA” label. NCBA believes voluntary origin labels with verified source claims will provide transparency in labeling without violating our international trade obligations.”
Montana Senator Jon Tester also released a statement on lifting the suspension of raw Brazilian beef imports to the United States.
“Let’s be clear, Brazil put American families at risk by exporting rotten beef into American grocery stores and covering it up with cancer-causing chemicals,” said Tester. “Now, Secretary Perdue is letting them off the hook without a long-term plan to make sure it doesn’t happen again. This is a slap in the face to Montana producers, who raise the highest quality beef in the world, and to Montana families, who shouldn’t have to worry if meat they buy at the store is safe for their kids to eat.”
Following reports in 2017 that Brazil was exporting rotten beef and attempting to cover it up with cancer-causing acid products, Tester successfully urged the USDA to implement a ban on Brazilian fresh beef imports. Last year, Tester introduced legislation that would require the Secretary of Agriculture to create a working group comprised of food safety experts and relevant trade agencies to comprehensively investigate safety threats related to Brazilian beef.