Plan to Import Beef from Brazil Causes an Uproar
March 7, 2014

Foot and mouth disease (FMD) - which affects hooved animals -- is so highly contagious it can be spread on a gentle breeze or the tires of farm machinery. The last outbreak of the disease in the United States was in 1929. A government proposal to import fresh beef from Brazil - where the disease is still active - has ignited fears of a new epidemic that could cost the U.S. cattle industry billions of dollars. 
 
Of the more than 500 comments posted on the Federal Register website as of Tuesday, nearly all are negative. 
 
On Dec. 23, 2013, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced a proposed rule to amend federal import regulations to allow, under certain conditions, the importation of fresh (chilled or frozen) beef from a region in Brazil. 
 
"We are aware of the concerns of ranchers," an APHIS spokeswoman told The Kansas City Star. "USDA bases its import decisions on science and will continue to protect the health of U.S. agriculture through appropriate importation eligibility requirements." 
 
The comment period for this proposed rule has been reopened and extended to April 22. To submit comments, go to www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2009-0017-0010. 
 
Reprinted in part from the Kansas City Star