The USDA just released a final rule that permits importing beef from Northern Argentina and parts of Brazil. Limitations on beef imports from these regions have been in place for decades as a safety measure designed to stop spread of foot-and-mouth disease. The United States eradicated the disease in 1929, but it remains common in parts of Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America.
In the final rule, the USDA states that it is “confident” that required safety procedures will allow the beef to be imported safely, and notes that the newly permitted imports will represent only a small portion of U.S. beef production.
The rule has drawn opposition from food safety advocates, including Representative Rosa DeLauro who stated that the rule “is a clear example where trade is trumping the safety of our food supply.” It also is opposed by the National Cattleman’s Beef Association.