A proposed rule to allow the importation of fresh beef from some Brazilian states will have an additional 60 days for public comment, National Cattlemen's Beef Association Vice President of Government Affairs Collin Woodall said Tuesday.
The rule change, first proposed in December, would allow the importation of the chilled or frozen beef but continue to protect the U.S. against foot-and-mouth disease, the USDA said.
Some stakeholders in the discussion, however, were outspoken about opposing the rule, including NCBA. Most said the risks of FMD brought in from Brazil were too great.
"This is a big rule and it has major implications, not only on our relationship with trading partners but also in relation to disease management," Woodall said. "Our concerns are really all about the willingness, the commitment, the resources and the infrastructure that Brazil is willing to put in too make sure that all of the protocols for regionalization in trade in a country that has FMD can be met in order to protect the United States."
The USDA's decision to propose expanded trade with Brazil is based on a risk assessment and series of site visits, APHIS said. However, many stakeholders, including Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., weren't comfortable with USDA's decision.
According to the Senator, quality is also questionable. He pointed out three incidents in 2010 when the Food and Drug Administration recalled Brazilian cooked and canned meat – which is allowed to be imported – due to drug contamination.
In comments via the Federal Register, NCBA added that the efforts to expand trade are welcome, but the risk is too great. They proposed an extension of the comment period to ensure all stakeholders were able to weigh in.
"We believe in making sure that we have the opportunity for as much trade as possible, but we need to make sure we are doing that without putting our own domestic herd at risk," Woodall said. "We're submitting a pretty extensive set of comments that will address all of the concerns that we have in hopes that USDA will utilize those and hopefully slow this process down while all of our questions and concerns can be answered and rectified."
As of Feb. 24, 2014, 493 comments had been submitted on the proposal. The new comment deadline is April 22.
View the full proposal and comment on the Federal Register under docket APHIS-2009-0017.