Legislation Reintroduced to Suspend Brazilian Beef Imports Amid Safety and Health Concerns

February 22, 2023

As part of their continued effort to support American ranchers and safeguard American consumers, U.S. Senators Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) reintroduced their bipartisan legislation to suspend Brazilian beef imports to the United States until experts can conduct a systemic review of the commodity’s impact on food safety and animal health.

“South Dakota ranch families work tirelessly to produce the safest, highest quality and most affordable beef in the world,” said Rounds. “Producer’s livelihoods are being compromised by Brazilian beef imports that fail to meet our country’s food safety and animal health standards, as Brazil has a history of failing to report, in a timely and accurate manner, diseases found in their herds. This poses a significant threat to both American producers and consumers. Consumers should be able to confidently feed their families beef that has met the rigorous standards required in the United States. Our bipartisan legislation would make certain Brazilian beef is safe to transport and eat before it is brought into our markets, neutralizing Brazil’s deceptive trade tactics.”

“As a third-generation farmer, I know how hard Montana ranchers work to produce top quality beef that consumers can trust,” said Tester. “Folks shouldn’t have to worry about whether the products they buy at the grocery store are safe to eat, and that’s why we need to halt Brazilian beef imports until Brazilian producers can prove that their products meet our health and safety standards. I’ll take on anyone, at home and abroad, to ensure that Montana producers aren’t cut out of the market by foreign corporations who aren’t following the rules.”

Rounds and Tester first introduced the bill in November of 2021 after Brazil revealed two cases of atypical Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or “Mad Cow Disease” that June. Most countries report similar cases to the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE) immediately, with both the United Kingdom and Germany reporting cases to OIE within days of their occurrence that same year, but Brazil reported its cases more than two months after the fact, breaking trust with the OIE and global trading partners. This has been a routine occurrence, with Brazil also waiting months or even years to report similar cases in 2012, 2014 and 2019.

Brazil enjoys preferential market access on the global stage due to its designation as a “negligible risk” exporter by OIE. While rare, one-off instances of atypical BSE do not necessarily indicate systemic issues with the health of Brazilian cattle herds, repeated delays in reporting suggest an overly lax food safety regime and raise concerns about the reporting of additional dangerous diseases such as Foot-and-Mouth Disease, African Swine Fever and Avian Influenza.

This legislation would make certain that Brazilian beef is safe to eat before it is brought back into U.S. markets by imposing a moratorium on Brazilian beef until a group of food safety, animal health and trade experts has made a recommendation regarding its import status.

The bill is supported by the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA), the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and R-CALF USA.

“Put simply, Brazil is a bad actor in the global marketplace,” said Whitney Klasna, Vice President of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association. “Several countries, including China, banned the Brazilian beef last year following animal and human health scares in the country. It is outrageous that we continue to accept the importation of beef from a country that is not interested in upholding the high standards and quality of the U.S. cattle and beef industries. USCA looks forward to working with Senators Tester and Rounds to push this bill to the President’s desk.”

“The United States has some of the highest food safety and animal health standards in the world, and any country who wishes to trade with the United States must demonstrate that they can meet those standards,” said Ethan Lane, Vice President of Government Affairs, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “Brazil’s track record of failing to report atypical BSE cases is unacceptable, and we must hold all trade partners accountable without exception.”

“Our nation’s national security depends on food security and Senator Tester and Senator Rounds’ bill to protect the safety of our food supply by banning beef from Brazil, which has a history of noncompliance with our food safety requirements, will help ensure that only safe and wholesome beef is available in our food supply chain,” said Bill Bullard, CEO of R-CALF USA.

 The bill is available HERE.

Source: U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.)