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USDA Announces Restoration of Beef Access for Brazil

  1. Statement from Kent Bacus, Senior Director of International Trade and Market Access “NCBA strongly supports science-based trade and the Trump Administration’s efforts to enforce science-based trade with all trade partners. But to be clear, NCBA has serious concerns about the re-entry of Brazilian beef to the U.S. market.” “NCBA has frequently questioned the lack of scientific evidence that was used to justify Brazil’s initial access to the U.S. market in 2016, and unfortunately, we were not surprised when Brazil forfeited its beef access to the U.S. in 2017 due to numerous food safety violations. NCBA praised Secretary Perdue for standing up for science-based trade and holding Brazil accountable for their numerous violations by suspending Brazil’s access and subjecting Brazil to undergo a thorough science-based inspection and audit process. It is evident that USDA believes that Brazil has addressed the concerns raised in the audit process, and steps will soon be taken to restore Brazil’s access to the United States.” “Given Brazil’s history of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and its track record of repeated food safety violations at ports-of-entry, you can rest assured that NCBA will keep an eagle eye focus on all developments with Brazil and we expect nothing less than the highest level of scrutiny from USDA and customs officials. Should Brazil continue to have food safety or animal health issues, we expect the U.S. government, including Capitol Hill, to take all necessary and immediate action to protect U.S. consumers and U.S. beef producers.” “The re-entry of Brazilian beef to the U.S. market only further exacerbates concerns about the use of “Product of USA” labels on beef sold in the United States. As the trusted leader and definitive voice of the U.S. beef industry, NCBA will continue leading conversations with USDA and the entire supply chain to address any labels that may allow imported beef to carry a “Product of USA” label. NCBA believes voluntary origin labels with verified source claims will provide transparency in labeling without violating our international trade obligations.” Talking Points We believe in objective, science-based trade. We know that USDA and customs officials will closely monitor and inspect Brazilian beef imports, and they will take immediate action to protect U.S. consumers and beef producers from any future food safety or animal health problems from Brazil. The United States has some of the highest food safety and animal health standards in the world, and naturally, U.S. beef producers are concerned with the decision to restore Brazilian beef to the U.S. market given Brazil’s history of foot-and-mouth disease and checkered history of food safety violations. For several months, experts from the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service worked closely with experts from the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to conduct thorough audits and on-site inspections of the Brazilian beef production system to determine if the Brazil system is equivalent in safety to the U.S. system. Given Brazil’s history with foot-and-mouth disease, Brazil must comply with a rigorous set of animal health and safety standards to be eligible for export to the United States. We trust that USDA has rigorously vetted Brazil’s production system and deemed it safe for the U.S. market, and will continue to audit Brazil’s system to ensure Brazil is compliant with our strong safety measures. (See below for more details on animal health standards.) History In June 2017, USDA suspended Brazilian beef from the U.S. market after numerous food safety violations at U.S. ports-of-entry. In March 2019, President Trump hosted Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at the White House to discuss the future of U.S.-Brazilian economic and geo-political ties. A joint statement was issued at the conclusion of their meeting, and that statement included a reference to the potential resumption of Brazil’s beef exports to the United States. Specifically, the United States agreed to schedule a technical visit by USDA-FSIS to audit Brazil’s beef production safety system. This is an important step in the science-based process and is consistent with previous NCBA requests. Here is the text of the joint statement: “In order to allow for the resumption of Brazil’s beef exports, the United States agreed to expeditiously schedule a technical visit by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to audit Brazil’s raw beef inspection system, as soon as it is satisfied with Brazil’s food safety documentation.  The Presidents instructed their teams to negotiate a Mutual Recognition Agreement concerning their Trusted Trader programs, which will reduce costs for American and Brazilian companies.” At that time, NCBA promised to monitor the audit process and to continue engaging with USDA to ensure that this process was given the highest level of scrutiny possible and that all decisions are based on science, not politics. That is exactly what NCBA has done for the past year and we will continue to carefully review all available details of the audit and keep an eagle eye focus on the safety of Brazilian beef imports. A Brief History of Brazil’s Beef Access to the United States · The United States enjoys a robust, varied and safe food supply that includes foods produced here and foods imported from other countries. o The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) conducts thorough food safety inspections on meat produced here, as well as meat that is imported into the country. o Before a country is approved to import meat into the U.S., the country must demonstrate that its food safety inspection processes and procedures are equivalent to those of the U.S. and provide the same level of public health protection achieved by U.S. measures. · In late 2016, the USDA reopened the U.S. market to fresh (chilled and frozen) Brazilian beef after determining the country’s food safety system was up to U.S. standards. o The U.S. did not start accepting fresh (chilled and frozen) Brazilian beef until October 2016. o Brazil had already been approved to import cooked meat products which accounted for the majority of beef imported from Brazil in 2016. · In 2017, fresh beef imports from Brazil accounted for only 1.5% of total fresh beef imports. o According to USDA-AMS, Brazil fresh beef imports totaled 6,380 metric tons through June 10, 2017. Fresh beef imports from all countries totaled 418,099 metric tons. · On June 22, 2017, USDA suspended fresh beef imports from Brazil due to recurring safety concerns. We have no reason to believe that any contaminated beef from Brazil entered into the U.S. food supply. o According to USDA, none of the rejected lots made it into the U.S. market. o Because fresh (chilled and frozen) beef imports from Brazil have been allowed for less than one year, 100 percent of the imported products are re-inspected by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Agency once they reach U.S. borders. · The suspension of fresh beef imports from Brazil is evidence that we have a strong food safety system and it works effectively. o According to the USDA, FSIS refused entry to 11 percent of Brazilian fresh beef products. That figure was substantially higher than the rejection rate of one percent of shipments from the rest of the world. o Under increased inspection, FSIS refused entry to 106 lots (approximately 1.9 million pounds / 860 metric tons) of Brazilian beef products due to public health concerns, sanitary conditions, and animal health issues. o After months of thorough review and the conclusion of a science-based audit process, USDA determined that Brazil addressed all concerns raised in the audit. o Brazil will face rigorous inspection at U.S. ports-of-entry for the foreseeable future. · Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (MCOOL) was neither a measure of food safety nor a food safety program, but rather a failed government marketing program that failed to encourage the purchase of U.S. beef. Instead, NCBA supports the use of voluntary COOL with USDA-verified source of origin claims. o MCOOL has nothing to do with food safety, it was a marketing program. o The U.S. has a robust food safety system in place to ensure that all beef sold in the country, regardless of where it comes from, is safe. o There were a large number of exemptions in MCOOL regulations, so it is unlikely that MCOOL would have effectively labeled Brazilian beef with the country-of-origin. For example, most of the beef imported from Brazil would be used for food service, which was exempt from MCOOL. o NCBA will continue leading conversations with USDA and the entire supply chain to address any labels that may allow imported beef to carry a “Product of USA” label. NCBA believes voluntary origin labels with verified source claims will provide transparency in labeling without violating our international trade obligations. · Brazilian beef imports will be restricted by a quota and tariffs, just like other countries. o Brazil is limited to the “Other Countries” category in the U.S. Tariff Rate Quota scheme. o Brazil must compete with members of the European Union and other countries for a small quota less than 65,000 metric tons. o All Brazilian beef imports under the quota will face a tariff of 4.4 cents per kilogram. Once that volume-based safeguard is reached, then the tariff raises to a flat rate of 26.4 percent. · For more information on food safety and USDA inspections, please visit For information on what you can do to help keep your family food safe, please visit · For more information on animal health criteria, please visit 9 CFR Part 94.29, “Restrictions on importation of fresh (chilled or frozen) beef and ovine meat from specified regions.” Mitigation Measures for FMD for Fresh Beef from Brazil Shipped to the United States *To be assured as being met prior to export by competent animal health authorities in Brazil. • The meat is beef from bovines that have been born, raised, and slaughtered inside the exporting region. • FMD has not been diagnosed in the export region within 12 months prior to exportation of the beef. • The beef came from bovines that originated on premises where FMD has not been present during the lifetime of any bovines slaughtered for the export of beef to the United States. • The beef came from bovines that were moved directly from the premises of origin to the slaughtering establishment without any contact with other animals. • The beef came from bovines that received ante-mortem and post- mortem veterinary inspections (paying particular attention to the head and feet) at the slaughtering establishment, with no evidence found of vesicular disease. • The beef consists only of bovine parts that are, by standard practice, part of the animal's carcass that is placed in a chiller for maturation after slaughter. Bovine parts that may not be imported include all parts of bovine heads, feet, hump, hooves, and internal organs. • All bone and visually identifiable blood clots and lymphoid tissue have been removed from the beef. • The beef has not been in contact with meat from regions other than those considered as FMD-free by APHIS and listed in § 94.1(a)(2). • The beef comes from carcasses that were allowed to maturate at 40 to 50 °F (4 to 10 °C) for a minimum of 24 hours after slaughter and that reached a pH of less than 6.0 in the loin muscle at the end of the maturation period.  Measurements for pH must be taken at the middle of both longissimus dorsi muscles.  Any carcass in which the pH does not reach less than 6.0 may be allowed to maturate an additional 24 hours and be retested, and, if the carcass still has not reached a pH of less than 6.0 after 48 hours, the meat from the carcass may not be exported to the United States. • An authorized veterinary official of the government of the exporting region certifies on the foreign meat inspection certificate that the above conditions have been met. • The establishment in which the bovines are slaughtered allows periodic on-site evaluation and subsequent inspection of its facilities, records, and operations by an APHIS representative. In addition to the above mitigations, there are several other aspects of the program that affect potential FMD risks; some relate to the extent to which the 11 factors (defined by APHIS as necessary to regionalization as described in 9 CFR § 92.2) are met by the exporting region of Brazil. In 2012, APHIS consolidated the 11 factors into 8 factors. We will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you,

Kent Bacus Senior Director of International Trade and Market Access National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

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