Resolution introduced to prohibit Paraguayan beef imports

Congressman says USDA rule puts meat industries at risk of foreign animal disease.

Congressman Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, this week introduced a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to oppose the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Importation of Fresh Beef From Paraguay final rule. 

According to Jackson, USDA made the decision in November 2023 to begin allowing the import of fresh Paraguayan beef using risk assessment data from site visits to the country from over 10 years ago. These outdated risk assessments, Jackson says, put the U.S. beef, pork and sheep industries at risk of foreign animal disease such as Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), which Paraguay has a long history of in their beef herds.

“Centuries of blood and sweat have gone into America’s cattle industry, and I will not allow our reputation as the safest beef in the world to be compromised now,” states Jackson. “Congress must prevent this unsafe rule from moving forward to protect the livelihoods of America’s farmers and ranchers.”

He continues: “This dangerous rule, based off decade-old data, is another example of the Biden administration failing to understand the needs of America’s agriculture producers, and further demonstrates their lack of insight and care for the industry. I am proud to lead this CRA to prohibit the importation of risky Paraguayan beef alongside colleagues from both sides of the aisle, who know how vital it is to protect U.S. cattle producers from devastating foreign animal disease outbreaks.”

Agriculture groups have been very outspoken about the risks behind USDA’s November decision and applauded Jackson for his action. Jackson’s CRA is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, R-CALF USA, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, the Livestock Marketing Association, Texas Cattle Feeders Association, and Texas Farm Bureau. 

Kent Bacus, executive director of government affairs at National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said: “Paraguay’s history of foot-and-mouth disease is not something we take lightly and importing beef from Paraguay is just too risky. The United States has some of the highest food safety and animal health standards in the world, and any country that wishes to trade with the United States must demonstrate that they can meet our standards. We need USDA to verify Paraguay’s paper claims of safety with current, on-the-ground site visits that confirm Paraguay can provide an equivalent level of safety for animal health. Cattle producers thank Representatives Ronny Jackson and Yadira Caraveo for introducing this Congressional Review Act to hold USDA accountable and protect cattle from foreign animal disease.”

Sens. Jon Tester, D- Mont., and Mike Rounds, R- S.D., introduced legislation in early December to continue a ban on beef imports from Paraguay. If passed, the bill would also require the establishment of a working group to evaluate the threat to food safety and animal health posed by Paraguayan beef.