US farmers and beef lobbies want to stop the import of fresh meat from Paraguay

A wide ranging alliance of US government officials, cattle farmers and beef organizations gathered to strongly oppose the purchase and import of fresh beef from Paraguay, but a final ruling from the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service decided in favor of the Mercosur country member. The decision became effective last December 14 and opens the doors to the Paraguayan produce.

Paraguay has struggled to eradicate foot-and-mouth disease for years, the main reason why their beef produce was banned in the US for a quarter of a century. Foot-and-mouth disease is highly contagious and has the potential of causing massive losses to livestock and breeders. The USDA estimates that a severe outbreak in North America has the potential to cost more than US$ 200 billion, before it is brought under control.

On Dec. 13, Senators Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota, and Jon Tester, D-Montana, announced they would file a Congressional Review Act resolution to overturn the decision to allow the introduction of Paraguayan beef. According to Rounds and Tester, Paraguay last reported foot-and-mouth disease cases in 2012, but the USDA’s decision to reinstate Paraguayan imports is based on information collected in 2018. They also stated American inspectors have not conducted an in site visit to Paraguay since 2014. The legislation is backed by US Cattlemen’s Association and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

”We have worked tirelessly to produce the safest, highest quality and most affordable beef in the world,” Rounds said. “Our consumers should be able to confidently feed their families beef that has met the rigorous standards required in the United States. I am proud to partner with Senator Tester to overturn this Biden administration rule that would allow beef imports from Paraguay.”

In addition to the legislation, multiple state secretaries of agriculture from farming states, Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, Ohio, Wyoming, and South Dakota, have signed a letter urging U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to override the ruling that would abolish the previous import ban.

“While trade is important to our industry, disease risks, and animal health are critical considerations in the process of building a trade relationship,” Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Blayne Arthur is quoted in High Plains Examiner.

In related news referred to Paraguay as one of the world’s main exporters of soybeans managed a threefold surge in the oil bean exports, 6,1 million tons by November 2023, up 2.2 million tons over the same month the previous year, according to the Paraguayan Chamber of Cereal and Oilseed Mechants (Capeco).

The recovery in production after the 2022 drought contributed to heightened export volumes, resulting in an additional revenue of US$ 3.271 million, pointed out ABC daily.