55 Groups Ask Congress to Help Stop USDA from Relaxing FMD ProtectionsWed, 05 Mar 2014 10:53:58 CST
In a letter sent today,55 organizations asked a bipartisan group of five U.S. Senators for help in stopping the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) from going forward with plans to relax the nation's protections against foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).
On Dec. 23, 2013, APHIS proposed to relax U.S. disease protections to allow the importation of fresh beef from Brazil, a country where, according to the group's letter, FMD is still considered endemic.
"We are concerned that APHIS is disregarding its responsibilities under the Animal Health Protection Act (AHPA)," the groups told the Senators.
The groups referred to APHIS' proposal to allow fresh Brazilian beef into the United States as "a radical and seemingly unjustified departure" from the disease protection measures that APHIS told Congress were necessary to prevent the introduction of FMD in a 2003 report.
The groups want Congress to require APHIS to suspend consideration of its Brazilian rule until after the agency updates its 2003 Final Report for the Animal Disease Risk Assessment, Prevention, and Control Act of 2001.
"This 2003 Final Report made clear that the more stringent disease protection protocols in place at the outset of the 21st Century were necessary to prevent the introduction of FMD into the United States," the letter stated.
Citing USDA trade reports indicating that the U.S. has been importing fresh beef from China and fresh pork from Colombia, even though both countries are banned from exporting either beef or pork to the U.S. due to FMD, the groups are also asking Congress to conduct an immediate investigation to determine if U.S. import controls have already been undermined.
To highlight the dire consequences of relaxing U.S. disease protections, the groups wrote: "The potential for FMD to devastate U.S. livestock production is paralleled by a new deadly virus now devastating U.S. hog producers: "PEDV" (Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus).
"PEDV was first identified in the U.S. in April 2013. In less than one year, PEDV has killed several million swine. PEDV is virtually 100% fatal for infected swine weighing less than 40 pounds. PEDV's DNA traces back to origins in China, according to Wisconsin State Veterinarian Dr. Paul McGraw."
The bipartisan group of Senators that received the group's request include Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Senator Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).
The 55 groups making the request include: Alabama Contract Poultry Growers, American Agriculture Movement, American Grassfed Association, Buckeye Quality Beef Association (Ohio), California Farmers Union, Cattle Producers of Louisiana, Cattle Producers of Washington, Center for Food Safety, The CJD Foundation, Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA), Colorado Independent CattleGrowers Association, Contract Poultry Growers Association of the Virginias, Dakota Rural Action, Dewitt County Farm Bureau, TX, Every One At The Table For Health (EAT4HEALTH), Family Farm Defenders, Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance, Farms Not Arms (Calif.), Food & Water Watch, Independent Beef Association of North Dakota (I-BAND), Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska, Independent Cattlemen of Wyoming, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), International Texas Longhorn Association, Intertribal Agricultural Council, Kansas Cattlemen's Association, Massey Road Cattle Producers (Iowa), The Milkweed, Missouri Farmers Union, Missouri Rural Crisis Center, Missouri's Best Beef Co-Operative, National Association of Farm Animal Welfare, National Family Farm Coalition, National Farmers Organization, National Farmers Union, National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association, Nebraska Farmers Union, Nebraska Women Involved in Farm Economics, Nevada Live Stock Association, New England Farmers Union, North Country Sustainability Center, Inc., Northern New Mexico Stockman's Association, Northern Wisconsin Beef Producers Association, Ohio Farmers Union, Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM), PCC Natural Markets, Powder River Basin Resource Council, Progressive Agriculture Organization (Pro-Ag), R-CALF USA, Rural Coalition/Coalición Rural, Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (SRA Project), South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, Texas-Mexico Border Coalition, Tri-State Wool Marketing Association, and Western Organization of Resource Councils.
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