July 18, 2008
July 18, 2008 - U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson (S.D.) this week was successful in leading approval of language in the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations regarding a U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) proposal to allow livestock and meat from areas of Argentina. The amendment to the 2009 agriculture spending bill would prevent the USDA from spending any money to implement the plan in Fiscal Year 2009 to open U.S. borders to imports of fresh meat and livestock from Argentina.
"Today's action is a strong step forward for our agricultural community, which would be devastated by the extreme risk foot and mouth disease (FMD) presents to our livestock herds," said Johnson, a member of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. "The USDA's proposal is shortsighted, and I remain committed to ensuring that no dangerous products from Argentina cross our borders."
The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) actively supported the amendment to the appropriations bill and commends Johnson and members of the appropriations committee for approval of the language.
ASI President Burdell Johnson (N.D.) stated, "This is a good first step to addressing the proposal on Argentina, and we are committed to working with the U.S. Senate and House to legislative resolution."
Johnson and Sen. Mike Enzi (Wyo.) also developed The Foot and Mouth Desiese Prevention Act of 2008 following the repeated concerns of their constituents worried about the risks of the proposal. Since the bill's introduction on July 10, the legislation has an additional 11 cosponsors from both sides of the political aisle.
An identical bill was introduced this week in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Barbara Cubin (Wyo.) and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (S.D.). Representatives from several other livestock states also supported the language.
ASI is a strong supporter of these bills. Sheep industry comments last year to the USDA proposal all opposed the change in regulations to allow imports from Argentina and pointed out the inaccuracies of the analysis provided.
"The introduction of the Senate and House bill provide a great opportunity for all sheep producers concerned about the disease risk from Argentina imports to contact their congressional delegation and ask them to cosponsor the bill," stated Peter Orwick, ASI executive director. "Because of the serious reservations expressed by both sheep and cattle producers to the introduction of livestock from Argentina, Congress has stepped in with the introduction of this bill."
Producers can refer representatives supporting this measure to Cubin or Sandlin and senators can contact Johnson or Enzi to cosponsor the Senate bill, S.3238.
In 2007, the USDA announced plans to allow cattle, sheep and swine and certain livestock product imports from a region within Argentina. Although the region itself is believed to be free of the disease with vaccination, FMD is found in the surrounding regions and countries. The potential risk of airborne transmission and contamination remains high. Staff contact: Peter Orwick, ext. 33