FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2015
Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106
WASHINGTON (June 29, 2015) – National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson said today that he was extremely disappointed in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) decision to allow importation of fresh and chilled beef from some regions of Brazil and Argentina, a move that has potentially devastating consequences for American family farmers and ranchers.
“U.S. farmers and ranchers are known throughout the world for the high standards to which livestock herds are raised in this country and our long-standing disease prevention efforts,” said Johnson. “Today’s decision to allow imports of beef from Brazil and Argentina, regions with a history of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD), puts the economic livelihood of American producers at risk, as it unnecessarily exposes the U.S. livestock industry to a highly contagious disease.”
Johnson noted that because FMD is highly contagious, it has the potential to spread very quickly. “An outbreak could result in not only health safety issues, but also quarantine and eradication of animals, a ban on exports, and reduced consumer confidence, all economically devastating risks to American livestock producers,” he said.
Johnson noted that in 2001, an outbreak of FMD in the United Kingdom (UK) resulted in the slaughter or burn of nearly 3 million animals. The epidemic was costly both to farmers and the economy; total losses to agriculture and the food chain amounting to roughly £3.1 billion.
“A 2002 study conducted by Purdue University and the Centers for Epidemiology and Animal Health at APHIS found that if an epidemic similar to the outbreak that occurred in the U.K. in 2001 were to strike the U.S., a loss of $14 billion in U.S. farm income (in 2002 dollars) would result,” he said.
Johnson also noted that delegates to the NFU 113th Anniversary Convention made animal disease protection a top issue for the general farm organization, noting concerns with weakening disease protection measures in a Special Order of Business (SOB) to the 2015 NFU Policy.
“NFU strongly opposes the administration’s decision to allow importation of beef from Argentina and Brazil,” said Johnson. “The economic livelihood of producers and the health of consumers is critical and at stake.”
NFU has previously submitted comments to APHIS on imports of beef from Northern Argentina and Brazil.
National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.