Washington, D.C.—“As has become a common practice by the Obama administration, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) transmitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget over a federal holiday weekend two major final rules that would open up imports of fresh beef products from Brazil and Argentina, hoping that no one was paying attention.These final rules were sent to OMB on Friday, May 22 but not posted on its website until Saturday, May 23.
“What is significant about these two final rules is that they would relax a longstanding ban by APHIS from allowing fresh beef imports from countries that have a history of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in their animal herds. The U.S. has not had a case of FMD in cattle since 1929. Food & Water Watch and number of livestock groups have already expressed their opposition to this relaxation of the FMD policy.
“In addition, Brazil and Argentina have a checkered food safety history with the meat products that they are already eligible to export to the U.S. USDA has been forced to suspend imports from these two countries over the past decade for food safety violations and for violating inspection standards.
“These new final rules come on the heels of the World Trade Organization ruling that found USDA‘s country of origin labeling regulations to be impediments to free trade. Consequently, consumers may not know at the meat counter whether the products they buy come from countries that have had a history of animal health and, or food safety problems.
“Food & Water Watch will continue to express its opposition to these final rules at OMB.”
Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-2500, kfried(at)fwwatch(dot)org.