KCA addresses meat import concerns
Recently, Administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service Alfred Almanza, traveled to Brazil to tour three packing plants in Brazil. Kansas Cattlemen's Association shared concerns that the tour could generate more trade agreements, specifically meat related, and potentially ease restrictions on imported meat and livestock. KCA encouraged FSIS to refrain from talks to ease trade agreements or ease import standards with Brazil.
In its letter to Almanza, KCA stated, "Not only is the U.S. cattle industry at risk but so is the food supply. The U.S. does not import raw beef from Brazil for a reason. Brazil has a record of a number of animal diseases including Foot and Mouth Disease. FMD is prevalent in all but one state, including Sao Paulo and Mato Grosso do Sul, two of the states that you are visiting. For diseases, borders are just imaginary lines. Moreover, Brazil continues to state that it lacks the infrastructure and stability to compete in a global market with developed countries. Therefore, it is important to take into consideration, even with advancements of Brazil's packing industry, Brazil's self-admitted status. It is even more prudent to be apprehensive and scrutinize the country's food safety and disease management plans. If developed countries are struggling to ensure food safety, it would seem that Brazil faces even more obstacles."
"There are possible unintended consequences for relaxing trade restrictions with Brazil. Brazil has more than 30 million head of cattle and importing meat from the country would directly compete with U.S. beef production, and based on potential trade incentives, this could result in unfavorable regard to domestic cattle and could hinder the ability of independent producers in the U.S. to compete with the foreign product. By lowering our import standards, the U.S. could be susceptible to even more foreign countries that lack food safety capabilities. As well, Brazilians meat inspection does not meet the same standards as the U.S, and how can USDA accept Brazilian inspectors for approving exports when qualified U.S. state inspected facilities still have challenges shipping across state lines? Foreign meat production, foreign food safety procedures, foreign animal welfare, and foreign animal health do not have the same standards as the U.S. industry implements. U.S. consumers have a reasonable expectation of a safe food supply. Importing beef from Brazil, a country without the same safety standards as the U.S. can jeopardize consumer health and confidence in our U.S. beef industry."
FSIS is in place to protect the public health through food safety and food defense. Therefore, KCA asked once again that the tour not result in fostering talks to ease trade restrictions, and KCA respectfully asked that FSIS continue its commitment to protect the U.S. consumer and remain steadfast in the position to prohibit Brazil from importing fresh meat into our country. KCA will continue to communicate with FSIS and Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack so that U.S. cattle producers are represented and their voices are heard.
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