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Trade group pushes APHIS to withdraw proposal to import fresh beef from Paraguay

BILLINGS, MT – In comments submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), R-CALF USA requested the agency immediately withdraw its proposal to allow the importation of fresh (chilled or frozen) beef from Paraguay.

Historically, the United States has not engaged in trade of beef from Paraguay because APHIS has considered Paraguay to be a country affected with foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). The government of Paraguay has requested that the U.S. allow fresh Paraguayan beef to be imported into the United States.

In response to this request, APHIS conducted a risk analysis, with the most recent on-site visit to Paraguay being nearly 10 years ago, in 2014. The USDA has proposed a rule seeking to allow the importation of fresh beef from Paraguay.

In its comments, R-CALF USA urged APHIS to withdraw its proposed rule on the grounds that it will cause an unnecessary and avoidable risk of introducing FMD into the United States, and subject U.S. consumers to beef from cattle that were not raised in compliance with United States’ more stringent production standards.

The group also noted the proposal would cause undue financial and economic injury to U.S. cattle farmers and ranchers and their communities, accelerate the ongoing contraction of the U.S. cattle industry, accelerate the deforestation of Paraguay, and deprive U.S. citizens of the protections due to them by their sovereign government.

The group also stated that because APHIS’ risk evaluation methodology is incapable of accurately assessing the risk for FMD outbreaks in countries with histories of FMD, the proposal should be withdrawn.

“Several times since 1997 APHIS had underestimated the risk for the reemergence of the disease in countries that are not free of FMD,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard adding, “For example, the agency was dead wrong about the risks in Uruguay, Argentina, South Africa, South Korea and Japan.”

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