Tester to USDA: Keep fresh-cut Brazilian beef off U.S. shores
Senator says Foot-and-Mouth risk ‘too great,’ vows to protect Montana beef, families
(GREAT FALLS, Mont.) – Senator Jon Tester is calling on the U.S. Agriculture Department to keep potentially dangerous beef from Brazil out of the United States and away from Montana livestock and families.
In response to a USDA proposal that could lead to the importation of fresh-cut Brazilian beef, Tester this week told Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that the current restrictions on Brazilian beef are in place for good reason – to protect U.S. cattle from foot-and-mouth disease and American ranchers from losing valuable livestock.
“Foot-and-mouth Disease is one of the most contagious and destructive livestock diseases in existence,” Tester said. “American beef is high quality and held to the highest standard of food safety. I strongly believe that both U.S. consumers and ranchers are best served by keeping Brazilian beef out of our country.”
“We are steadfastly opposed to this proposal and believe it will both financially harm independent cattle producers and subject them to a heightened risk of Foot and Mouth Disease,” said Bill Bullard, President of R-Calf USA. “We appreciate Senator Tester’s leadership in standing up for Montana ranchers.”
Brazil has not yet eradicated foot-and-mouth disease, and it is questionable whether the country has strong enough livestock disease and food safety standards to keep foot-and-mouth from entering the U.S. On three occasions in 2010, the FDA recalled Brazilian cooked and canned meat due to drug contamination.
Montana’s livestock industry, which has 2.6 million head of cattle, contributes more than one billion dollars to Montana’s economy each year. Tester is pushing to make sure the soon-to-be-agreed upon Farm Bill includes livestock disaster assistance so ranchers can protect their livestock investment.
Tester also recently urged USDA to extend the comment period on its proposal that would allow the importation of fresh-cut Brazilian beef. The extension would give consumers and ranchers more time to make their thoughts known. To submit comments, visit: http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2009-0017
Tester’s letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is below.