Press Release of Representative Cubin

Cubin, Herseth Sandlin Introduce Legislation to Protect Domestic Herds from Foot and Mouth Disease

Bill Stops Importation of Certain Animals and Animal Products from Argentina; Requires USDA to Certify that Argentina is Free of Foot and Mouth Disease 

July 16, 2008, Washington, DC- Today, Rep. Rep. Barbara Cubin (R-WY) and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD) led a bipartisan coalition in introducing legislation to keep America's food supply safe while protecting the country's livestock industry from the devastating effects an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) would bring. Currently, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is considering a plan to open the U.S. protein market to select regions of Argentina, despite the fact that USDA has not conducted a safety assessment in Argentina since a 2006 outbreak of FMD. The Foot and Mouth Disease Prevention Act of 2008 prohibits the importation of Argentine ruminants and swine, or any fresh, chilled or frozen meat or product of any ruminant or swine born, raised or slaughtered in Argentina until the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture certifies to Congress that every region of Argentina is free of FMD without vaccination. 

"An outbreak of FMD would be devastating to South Dakota's livestock producers and the rural economies they support - as well as our nation's food supply," Herseth Sandlin said. "Despite this serious risk, the USDA has proposed a plan that assumes that a highly infectious airborne disease like FMD would stop at imaginary borders. I'm proud to work with a bipartisan group of colleagues to introduce this legislation to ensure that we take every precaution to keep America safe from the potentially devastating effects of this disease until Argentina can prove that it has the controls in place to keep their country's livestock free of FMD." 

Rep. Cubin said, "To be successful, livestock producers must overcome a great number of challenges that are beyond their control, like weather, wolf predation, and competing in a global marketplace. When Congress has an opportunity to help ranchers to control events, it certainly should. This is why I am introducing a bill in the House that will prohibit the importation of any live cattle or swine from Argentina into the United States. We simply cannot take chances when we're talking about the economically devastating impact that foot-and-mouth disease could have on a family ranch." 

The United States has been free of FMD since 1929 and is free of FMD without vaccination. According to the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, however, the economic impacts of FMD in the U.S. could cost the economy billions of dollars in the first year. A 2001 outbreak in England led to the destruction of 6 million animals and cost the economy nearly $20 billion. 

Joining Herseth Sandlin and Cubin in introducing the bill in the House were original co-sponsors Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND), Rep. Nancy Boyda (D-KS), Rep. Steve Kagen (D-WI) and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA). 

Last week, Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) introduced an identical bill in the Senate. Both versions enjoy support by a variety of industry groups including: the U.S. Cattlemen's Association, the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI), the South Dakota Cattlemen's Association and the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (affiliates of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association), R-CALF, National Farmers Union, the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, the Western Organization of Resource Councils, and Dakota Rural Action. 

Leo McDonnell, Director Emeritus with the U.S. Cattlemen' s Association said, "America's ranchers salute Rep. Herseth Sandlin and Rep. Cubin for introducing a bill that will force Argentina to become more responsible in their global commitments and quit looking for short cuts or ways to by-pass such responsibilities." 

"There is no justification for relaxing import restrictions that protect the United States against the introduction of FMD," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. "The sponsors of this common-sense legislation recognize that the most effective prevention measure against FMD is to ensure that it is not imported into the United States from countries where FMD is known to exist or was recently detected. R-CALF USA appreciates all the hard work that went into getting this measure to Congress, and we'll keep working hard to get it passed into law to protect the viability and profitability of the U.S. cattle industry." 

"The Wyoming Stock Growers Association commends Congresswomen Cubin and Herseth Sandlin for sponsoring this legislation. The U.S. cattle industry cannot rely on the internal regional controls of a foreign country to protect our herds from this devastating disease" said Jim Magagna, Executive Vice President of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association.