Billings, Mont., Dec. 8, 2023 – This week, Sens. Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced Senate Bill 3386 (S.3386) to temporarily suspend imports of beef and beef products from Paraguay and require the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to convene a working group to fully evaluate the threat that such imports would have on U.S. food safety and animal health.
The introduction of the bipartisan bill was in response to a final rulemaking by the USDA to begin allowing the importation of fresh beef from Paraguay beginning December 14, 2023.
The United States has not imported beef from Paraguay for over a quarter century due to known outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) within the country. FMD is a highly contagious disease of cloven-hoofed animals like cattle. The USDA estimates that the consequence of an outbreak of FMD in the United States would be losses over a 15-year period of between $37 billion to $42 billion.
While the last known FMD outbreak in Paraguay occurred in 2011, the last on-site evaluation of the risks of FMD in Paraguay conducted by the USDA occurred nearly a decade ago, in 2014.
“We are grateful for this bipartisan action to protect our food supply and animal health from what we view as an extremely irresponsible decision by the USDA,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.
“But Congress will have to act quickly to pass this legislation in time to prevent the importation of potentially high-risk beef from Paraguay given that the USDA wants to allow such beef imports to begin as early as December 14.”