Baucus, Colleagues Question USDA Rule on Argentina Beef
Safe and open markets should be top priority
Washington, DC – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) led several
Senators in urging the Bush Administration to reevaluate a proposed USDA rule to declare the
southern Patagonia region of Argentina free of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Rinderpest.
In a letter sent March 14 to Agriculture Secretary Edward Schafer and Office of Management and
Budget Director Jim Nussle, Baucus and his colleagues urged the OMB and USDA to carefully
examine the conditions in Argentina and to furnish a comprehensive list of criteria used to assess the risk of FMD in Argentina and other countries that wish to export beef and lamb to the United States. The Senators also reminded USDA that U.S. cattle producers are unable to ship safe, delicious U.S. beef to many of our trading partners, and that opening markets for U.S. producers should be USDA’s top priority.
“The potential for Foot and Mouth Disease, no matter how small the risk, is not something
we should treat lightly. Any decision to allow meat imports from countries with a history of
this devastating disease must be fully scrutinized to protect U.S. cattle and sheep herds.”
Baucus said. “It is also important that USDA keep its priorities straight. At a time when
many of our beef producers are struggling, USDA must keep its eye on the ball and open
key markets in Korea and Japan.”
The full text of the Senators’ letter follows here.
March 14, 2008
The Honorable Edward Schafer
Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250
The Honorable Jim Nussle
Director, the Office of Management and Budget
725 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20503
Dear Secretary Schafer and Director Nussle:
We are writing to express our concern regarding USDA’s proposed rule to declare the southern
Patagonia region of Argentina free of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Rinderpest, and to
allow meat imports from this region. FMD is highly contagious, and an outbreak of this disease
in the United States would be economically devastating for U.S. cattle and sheep producers. Any
decision to allow regional access to U.S. markets in countries with a history of FMD must be
We urge you not to issue the final rule for southern Patagonia until the rule has been reviewed by OMB. While OMB may view this particular rule as non-significant, it serves as a precedent for
future rules that would regionalize FMD status, and deserves thorough examination. Further, we
request that the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) provide a clear list
of criteria and measures that all countries must meet in order for APHIS to determine that a
particular region can be deemed free of FMD.
Beef producers in our states and throughout the country are struggling, due in no small part to the continuing bans on U.S. beef products in Korea, Japan and other countries. USDA’s top priority should be opening these markets to U.S. exports and alleviating the market pressures on U.S. farmers and ranchers.
I look forward to your reply, and to working with you to restore market access for safe, high quality U.S. beef.
Sen. Max Baucus, (D-MT) Sen. Jeff Bingaman, (D-NM)
Sen. Ben Nelson, (D-NE) Sen. Ken Salazar, (D-CO)
cc: Ambassador Susan Schwab, United States Trade Representative
Cindy Smith, Administrator, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
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