FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Brittany Jablonsky, 202-314-3108
bjablonsky@nfudc.org

WASHINGTON (April 22, 2014) – Today National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on its proposal to allow the importation of beef from several states in Brazil with a recent history of unresolved foot and mouth disease (FMD).

“As we’ve seen in the past, consumer confidence in the safety of our food supply is easily jeopardized by even rumored threats,” said Johnson. “NFU’s family farmer- and rancher-driven policy is clear on this issue: livestock, animal protein products and meat imports from countries with a history of FMD and other infectious livestock diseases put the entire U.S. livestock industry at risk due to the very real possibility of transmission of FMD to U.S. livestock. APHIS must maintain the current ban on importation of fresh beef from Brazil.”

Inconsistencies between animal health disclosures reported by APHIS and the World Organization for Animal Health further erode NFU’s confidence in the safety of beef imports from countries with a history of FMD presence and a poor food safety record. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalled Brazilian cooked and canned meat on three occasions in 2010 due to drug contamination.

The economic costs of an FMD outbreak in the United States would be tremendous. A 2002 study found that if an epidemic similar to the outbreak that occurred in the U.K. in 2001 were to strike the United States, a loss of $14 billion in U.S. farm income (in 2002 dollars) would result. This includes costs of quarantine and eradication of animals, a ban on exports, and reduced consumer confidence. In addition, the disease could spread to any cloven-hoofed animals, endangering other domestic livestock like sheep or pigs, and wild deer and antelope that form the basis of the U.S. hunting industry.

“U.S. farmers and ranchers are known throughout the world for our long-standing disease prevention efforts and high food safety standards. USDA must not endanger this reputation, or consumers’ safety, for the sake of cheap imported food,” Johnson said.

Click here to read NFU’s comments.

National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.

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