(ConservativeSense.com) – The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service last Thursday announced that the US would once again allow imports of Paraguayan beef for the first time in 25 years after regulators concluded their extensive review.
Starting on December 14, Paraguay will join 17 other countries that are permitted to export beef to the US.
Paraguay’s President Santiago Pena described the move as a “historical milestone” that followed a process involving long audits, Reuters reported.
However, US cattle producers aren’t happy with the news.
Fox News reported that the country’s largest industry group for cattle producers, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, blasted the USDA’s decision to allow imported beef from Paraguay, given the country’s history of foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks, a disease that quickly spreads among livestock.
The group’s executive director of government affairs, Kent Bacus, told Fox News that the USDA’s decision was based on “a deeply flawed risk assessment” using data from site visits from nine years ago.
Bacas said that given Paraguay’s history of foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks, it is not clear if the country’s inspection system would provide the level of safety necessary to prevent a future outbreak on US soil.
According to Bacus, the country’s foot-and-mouth disease mitigation relies heavily on private-sector funding, and the USDA failed to consider whether Paraguay’s economic downturn over the past few years could put that mitigation effort at risk.
For years, Paraguay has made re-entering the US market a top diplomatic priority for the country. However, Bacus told Fox News that the USDA should not have placed Paraguay’s interests ahead of the safety of the US beef supply.
He said while it may help the long-term diplomatic interests of the United States to gain “friends and allies in South America,” the USDA should not have accomplished it “on the backs of US cattle producers.”
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