March 9, 2007
March 9, 2007 - As of this morning, 44 comments -- 41 against and 3 in favor -- were submitted in response to the proposed rule to amend the regulations to allow imports of meat and meat products from the region referred to as Patagonia South. Representatives from both the U.S. sheep industry and the U.S. cattle industry pointed out issues of concern in the proposed rule involving disease prevention.
In the Jan. 5, 2007, edition of the Federal Register, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published a proposed rule stating its desire to amend the regulations to add the portion of the Patagonia region of Argentina referred to as Patagonia South to the list of regions considered free of rinderpest and foot-and-mouth disease.
Some of the concerns shared by both the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association focused on the risk assessment used to prepare this rule and the methods by which Argentina proposed to mitigate risk.
In the comments submitted by ASI, the sheep industry stated the agency would have to rebuild the economic impact analysis due to serious concerns.
This week, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) also weighed in with his thoughts in a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns that this proposed rule contained an economic analysis of the domestic sheep industry that is both disconcerting and ill-informed. He recommended that APHIS review its economic analysis and make corrections.
The three organizations that support the initiative to allow the importation of meat and meat products from the Patagonia South region include Meat Imports Council of American, Inc., the National Health and Agrifood Quality Service of Argentina and the Argentina Beef Promotion Institute. Staff contact: Peter Orwick, ext. 33