02.28.20

Rounds Joins Thune, Colleagues in Letter to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue to Share Concerns with Brazilian Beef Imports

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today joined Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and 13 other senators in sending a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue to express their concerns with the administration’s decision to lift the U.S. ban on Brazilian raw beef imports. In 2017, USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) blocked imports of Brazilian beef due to public health concerns, poor sanitary conditions and animal health issues.

“Given that the United States halted Brazilian raw beef imports less than one year after Brazil was granted access in 2016, we have serious concerns about Brazil’s ability to maintain adequate food safety standards over the long run,” wrote the senators in the letter.

“We recognize that the January 2020 FSIS audit found that Brazil’s Central Competent Authority had implemented corrective actions to address the deficiencies identified in the June 2019 FSIS audit,” the senators continued. “However, considering Brazil’s multiple failed attempts to uphold equivalent food safety standards, we believe a complete verification process of certified Brazilian facilities may be warranted.”

In addition to Rounds and Thune, the letter was signed by U.S. Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Steve Daines (D-Mont.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).

 

Full text of the letter:

 

February 28, 2020

 

The Honorable Sonny Perdue

Secretary

U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, D.C. 20250

Dear Secretary Perdue:

We write to express our concerns with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) February 20, 2020, decision to lift the U.S. ban on Brazilian raw beef imports. 

In 2017, USDA FSIS refused entry to approximately 2 million pounds of beef from Brazil and subsequently announced the suspension of all imports of fresh beef from Brazil due to public health concerns, poor sanitary conditions, and animal health issues.  Given that the United States halted Brazilian raw beef imports less than one year after Brazil was granted access in 2016, we have serious concerns about Brazil’s ability to maintain adequate food safety standards over the long run. 

We recognize that the January 2020 FSIS audit found that Brazil’s Central Competent Authority had implemented corrective actions to address the deficiencies identified in the June 2019 FSIS audit.  However, considering Brazil’s multiple failed attempts to uphold equivalent food safety standards, we believe a complete verification process of certified Brazilian facilities may be warranted. 

For this reason, we respectfully request answers to the following questions:

 

  1. How will FSIS monitor Brazil’s progress in fully implementing the corrective actions?
  2. How does FSIS plan to respond if Brazil fails to implement all necessary corrective actions? 
  3. Given that FSIS audited only eight of the 28 facilities in Brazil certified for U.S. exports, does FSIS plan to audit additional facilities? If so, when?
  4. When, if ever, does FSIS expect to have audited all 28 certified facilities?
  5. On what basis will FSIS conduct routine audits of already certified facilities? 

 

Thank you for your prompt attention to these concerns.  Please respond in writing no later than March 10.  If you need further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our offices.  

 

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