Protecting American Ranchers: Senate Vote to Block Paraguayan Beef Imports

March 21, 2024

Today, the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution, authored by Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), aimed at reversing the Biden Administration’s lifting of a longstanding ban on beef imports from Paraguay. Tester, stressing the significance of supporting Montana ranchers, criticized the Biden Administration's decision as detrimental.

The CRA, a mechanism allowing Congress to overturn federal agency rules via a simple majority vote, was supported by an overwhelmingly bipartisan 70-25 majority in the Senate, making it veto-proof. The resolution will now proceed to the House for further consideration.

Tester underscored concerns about Paraguay's beef safety standards, emphasizing the need for data demonstrating parity with U.S. regulations before allowing imports. Rounds echoed these sentiments, highlighting the importance of consumer confidence in beef quality and safety.

A broad coalition, including industry groups like the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA), supports Tester and Rounds’ resolution, expressing concerns about the risk to American cattle health and safety posed by Paraguayan imports.

The senators have consistently advocated for American ranchers, introducing bipartisan legislation to suspend Paraguayan beef imports and establish a working group to assess related risks. They have urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to gather updated data, given Paraguay's foot and mouth disease history. Despite Paraguay reporting cases in 2012, the USDA's decision to resume imports relies on outdated information, with no recent site visits conducted since 2014.

“USDA’s decision to allow Paraguayan beef imports into the U.S. creates an unnecessary risk to the health and safety of the U.S. cattle herd. U.S. cattle producers are held to the highest food safety and animal health standards in the world and any trade partner must be able to demonstrate they can meet those same standards,” said Kent Bacus, Executive Director of Government Affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). “Given Paraguay’s long history of foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks, it is simply too risky to allow Paraguayan imports without recent site visits to confirm Paraguay’s safety claims. U.S. cattle producers are thankful for the leadership of Senators Jon Tester and Mike Rounds for applying the Congressional Review Act to hold USDA accountable and protect our nation’s cattle herd.”

"Here in Montana we hold our beef to a higher standard, and Senator Tester will stand up to anyone that tries to jeopardize the hard work of our ranchers,” said Walter Schweitzer, President of the Montana Farmers Union. “With plenty of questions surrounding animal safety and standards in Paraguay, it’s clear that reversing a ban on Paraguayan beef is the wrong move for producers and consumers in Montana. Thank you Senator Tester for looking out for our ranchers and standing up for Montana.”

“American cattle ranchers work diligently to grow and deliver the most safe, healthy, sustainably produced beef to the world,” said John Grande, President of the Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA). “Montana Stockgrowers Association applauds Senators Tester and Rounds on their work to protect the American beef industry and for their effort to stop unscientific rulemaking on beef imports from Uruguay.”

“The last time U.S. government officials stepped foot in a Paraguayan meat processing facility was in 2014. That nearly ten-year gap since the last site visit does not inspire confidence in Paraguay’s animal health and food safety protocols,” said Justin Tupper, President of U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA). “Further, in its regulatory impact analysis, USDA fully admits that there is a real possibility we could import beef from an animal infected by Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD). An outbreak of FMD in the United States would be devastating for both producers and consumers, causing lasting financial losses between $33 and $93 billion. We thank Senators Tester and Rounds.”

“We applaud Senator Tester and Senator Rounds for protecting the integrity of America's beef supply,” said Bill Bullard, CEO of R-CALF USA. “The USDA's reliance on outdated inspections of Paraguayan food safety protocols is unacceptable. We urge swift passage of this critical measure.”

“LMA greatly appreciates Senator Tester and Rounds standing up for the health of the U.S. cattle industry,” said Mark Barnett, President of Livestock Marketing Association. “The irresponsible decision to allow fresh Paraguay beef imports based on outdated site visits and inadequate data is an unacceptable risk for hardworking beef producers in this country.”

“Importing beef from Paraguay risks undermining consumer trust in the safety and quality of domestic beef,” said Rob Larew, President of National Farmers Union. “Given the unresolved concerns about Paraguay's quality standards and regulatory system, Senators Tester and Rounds’ leadership in pushing to reinstate the ban is crucial."


“We appreciate Senator Tester and Senator Rounds’ efforts to protect the American beef supply and urge swift passage of this CRA,” said Cyndi Johnson, President of the Montana Farm Bureau Federation. “Until it can be absolutely proven that there is no risk of an infectious animal disease outbreak in the U.S. domestic animal population caused by these imports, they must be halted.”  


Tester and Rounds have led the charge to support American ranchers. In February, the Senators officially filed their bipartisan CRA to overturn the Biden Administration’s decision. The senators also introduced bipartisan legislation to suspend beef imports from Paraguay in response to animal health concerns. Their bipartisan bill would also require the establishment of a working group to evaluate the threat to food safety and animal health posed by Paraguayan beef. Tester and Rounds have called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to collect more up to date data before resuming beef imports from a country like Paraguay with a recent history of foot and mouth disease. Paraguay last reported cases of foot and mouth disease in 2012. The USDA’s decision to resume Paraguayan imports relies on an analysis completed in 2018, and American inspectors have not conducted a site visit to Paraguay since 2014.


Last year, Tester and Rounds introduced bipartisan legislation to suspend Brazilian beef imports to the U.S. until experts can conduct a systemic review of the commodity’s impact on food safety and animal health. 

Source: Western Ag Network