Protecting the health of the U.S. cattle herd

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says the push-back on the USDA’s decision to allow imports of Paraguayan beef is solely about protecting the health of the U.S. cattle herd.

Kent Bacus, director of Government Affairs with NCBA, says the US food supply is the safest in the world. “The information that was used to determine the equivalency for animal health was very old,” he says. We were simply relying on Paraguay’s word instead of actually verifying that with boots on the ground and transparent and accountable auditing.”

He tells Brownfield that NCBA has made the expectations very clear for countries wanting to trade with the U.S.  “If any country wants to have access to the US market, they need to be able to demonstrate they can provide an equivalent level of safety,” he says. “That’s for both animal health and food safety.”

Earlier this year, the USDA issued a rule to lift the longstanding ban on Paraguayan beef imports despite the country’s concerning animal health track record. On Thursday, a bipartisan group of Senators passed a resolution, with a veto-proof majority, that would block Paraguayan beef imports. 

Bacus says NCBA is hopeful the House also passes the resolution with a two-thirds majority.  “There’s a chance that the President could veto this resolution and send it back to the House and Senate for another vote,” he says.  “We need to make sure that before that option is even on the table, the President understands that it’s not going to be worthwhile to veto it.”

The measure now moves to the U.S. House for consideration, but the timeline is uncertain.

AUDIO: Kent Bacus, NCBA

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