USDA Secretary resisting calls for halt to US imports of Brazilian beef

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said it would not be appropriate for the US to halt imports of Brazilian beef even though the country was late in reporting two atypical cases of BSE earlier this year.
calendar icon 10 December 2021
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“At this point in time, there isn't a scientific reason or basis” to halt trade, Vilsack told Politico.

He also noted there is a “misunderstanding” about the issues with Brazil.

“There's the belief that there is something a bit more serious than in fact is,” Vilsack said.

Several lawmakers, including Democrats, have called for the halt of imports of Brazilian beef, calling on USDA to act.

“If we were to do that, then we would expose our own beef industry to significant restrictions worldwide under similar circumstances, which we don’t want to do,” Vilsack noted.

While the atypical cases are not an indicator of major issues with BSE in Brazil, some lawmakers contend the delay by Brazil in notifying on the cases raises questions on how they would respond to a BSE outbreak or outbreaks of other animal diseases.

Vilsack is relying on guidance from the World Animal Health Organization (OIE) which does not call for such a ban from atypical cases of BSE — ones that spontaneously occur at a low rate and do not pose a risk to other animals.

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