Last fall, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that they were moving forward with allowing the nation of Paraguay to send their fresh beef into the U.S. Following this decision, Cattle organizations in the U.S. raised immediate concern along with members of Congress because of the risk of disease outbreak in the U.S. Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, is talking with Congressman Frank Lucas about the risks of importing beef from Paraguay.
Lucas said that he and over two dozen members of Congress wrote a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture but have yet to hear a response. The letter, Lucas said demanded that the rule to allow fresh beef from Paraguay be put to a halt until more research is conducted.
“It appears, based on our understanding, that they are using info that is a decade old, almost, that no one physically was in the field down there to verify the results,” Lucas said. “This is just not good science.”
Foot and Mouth disease is an incredibly contagious disease that impacts livestock, Lucas said, and importing fresh beef from Paraguay without taking the necessary precautions puts the entire U.S. at risk of an outbreak.
“We have had a major national focus on eradicating and keeping it (Foot and Mouth disease) out of the country for a century and a half,” Lucas said. “As a matter of fact, there has not been a case of Foot and Mouth in the United States since 1929, which says something about our state departments of agriculture and USDA’s success.”
Lucas said the type of quarantine that would take place if there was a Foot and Mouth outbreak in the United States is unimaginable.
“We just can’t take any chances, “Lucas said. “USDA needs to suspend their rule, go back and reassess their science, then come back and explain to us why they really think this is actually allowable. I think they will have a hard time explaining that.”
If there is no response to the letter sent by Lucas and his colleagues, Lucas said there will be bipartisan legislation by the House and Senate to overturn the rule.
“I would prefer that we not have to do that,” Lucas said. “I would prefer USDA just simply announce they stop in their tracks and start over. If we have to, we will use the legislative process as quickly as we can to help them stop this process if they won’t.”
Lucas said he supports trade, but to trade safely, it must be a science-based process to protect consumption.
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Ag Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR for today’s show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.