02.17.22

Rounds Joins Tester on Legislation to Halt Brazilian Beef Imports

WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) announced he was joining Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) on legislation that would suspend Brazilian beef imports to the United States until experts can conduct a systematic review of the commodity’s safety. The bill would make certain that Brazilian beef is safe to eat before it is brought into U.S. markets by imposing a moratorium on Brazilian beef until a group of food safety and trade experts has made a recommendation regarding its import status.

“Brazilian beef poses a threat to both American consumers and producers,” said Rounds. “Consumers should feel confident that their beef is safe. Foreign beef should not jeopardize the high-quality beef produced by American ranchers. It’s not often that you have all the major cattle groups supportive of the same idea, which says a lot. I thank Senator Tester for his leadership on this issue and am hopeful others will get behind this effort.”

The legislation is supported by the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, R-CALF USA, South Dakota Stockgrowers Association and South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association.

“We thank Senators Rounds and Tester for their leadership on this bill,” said South Dakota Stockgrowers Association President Vaughn Meyer. “The recent Brazilian beef industry events underscore their dishonest and non-transparent trade commitments with world trade partners. These breeches of trade requirements become a detriment to the integrity of U.S. producers as under current regulations Brazilian beef may assume the USA label with minor reprocessing or repackaging.”  

"We know there were at least two cases of BSE in Brazil in June,” said James Halverson, South Dakota Stockgrowers Association Executive Director. “Those cases, despicably, were not reported until September. Unfortunately, this has been par for the course with the Brazilian Ministry of Ag, and the lack of transparency jeopardizes our entire industry. We need to stop these imports immediately and send a message to Brazil that if they want to be our trading partner, they'll need to abide by the rules put in place to safeguard our industry at home and abroad. We thank Senator Tester for introducing S. 3230 and Senator Rounds for co-sponsoring the bill.  We look forward to continued support from more of our elected officials."

“Providing a safe and wholesome beef product is of utmost concern to the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association,” said Eric Jennings, President of South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association. “Brazil has a questionable history of following the food safety protocols set out in the trade agreements. We support taking steps to ensure beef imports from Brazil meets or exceeds the U.S. safety standards.”

"It is disappointing that the USDA has not taken this issue seriously, despite the strong urging from cattle industry groups, to halt the imports of Brazilian beef,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. “We are thankful that Senator Rounds and Senator Tester are taking action to protect the American cattle industry and consumer."

BACKGROUND:

On September 3, 2021, Brazil announced two cases of atypical BSE that were detected in June of the same year. Most countries report similar cases to the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE) immediately – with both the United Kingdom and Germany last year reporting cases to OIE within days of their occurrence – but Brazil reported its cases more than two months after the fact, breaking trust with the OIE and global trading partners. This has been a routine occurrence, with Brazil also waiting months or even years to report similar cases in 2019, 2014 and 2012.

Brazil enjoys preferential market access on the global stage due to its designation as a “negligible risk” exporter by OIE. While rare, one-off instances of atypical BSE do not necessarily indicate systemic issues with the health of Brazilian cattle herds, repeated delays in reporting suggest an overly lax food safety regime and raise concerns about the reporting of additional dangerous diseases such as Foot-and-Mouth Disease, African Swine Fever and Avian Influenza.

Since he was elected to the Senate, Rounds has led numerous efforts to provide solutions to the problems faced by independent cattle producers and beef consumers including:

  • Led a group of 26 colleagues with Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) in calling on the attorney general to investigate the meatpacking industry to determine if antitrust violations exist.
  • Introduced the Meat Packing Special Investigator Act with Sens. Tester and Grassley to give the U.S. Department of Agriculture the tools to investigate anticompetitive practices in the cattle market.
  • Addressed cattle producers during a virtual town hall focused on meatpacker concentration in the cattle industry.
  • Reintroduced legislation with Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) to allow meat and poultry products inspected by state Meat and Poultry Inspection (MPI) programs to be sold across state lines.
  • Introduced bipartisan legislation to foster more competitive cattle markets by requiring that a minimum of 50 percent of a meatpacker’s weekly volume of cattle purchases take place on the open or spot market.
  • Introduced legislation which would outlaw foreign beef from being labeled as a “Product of the U.S.A.” and make certain that label only goes on beef and beef products exclusively derived from animals born, raised and slaughtered here in the United States.
  • Spoke out on the price fixing settlement between Brazilian owned JBS and plaintiffs, the first nationwide antitrust litigation over price fixing in the beef cattle market

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