ASI Submits Comments on Proposed Rule to Import Bone-in Lamb from Uruguay
August 12, 2016

"ASI is a proponent of free and fair trade; our borders have generally been open to lamb imports from all qualifying countries, essentially duty and quota free, for decades," said American Sheep Industry Association President Burton Pfliger. "ASI and its members are interested in and concerned with meat safety, quality and disease risk from all sources of lamb products."

U.S. borders were open to Uruguay prior to its outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease 15 years ago in its cattle population. Uruguay is designated FMD-free with vaccination and is currently approved to export deboned lamb to the United States with several FMD risk-mitigation measures in place. In fact, all beef and lamb imports from Uruguay currently are boneless.

In ASI's comments submitted this week on the proposed rule to allow the importation of bone-in lamb meet from Uruguay, it states: "The proposed rule to allow the importation of bone-in lamb products from Uruguay includes some specific, intriguing FMD risk-control and mitigation measures that we believe could be used rather effectively. Further, Uruguay has a history of a highly functional inspection system. However, we find that some elements of the risk assessments are deficient and that too much time has passed since rigorous FMD risk assessments have been done for them to be used as valid support for the current proposed changes in the import regulations."

Pfliger further commented, "In conclusion, we appreciate the willingness of Uruguay's sheep industry participants and of their regulatory agencies to propose to adopt several interlocking measures to help assure that exported lamb meat would not contain FMD virus. However, given the concerns listed, we believe APHIS should withdraw this proposed rule and conduct the following: