Cattle producers are trying to close the U.S. trade door on Brazilian beef over concerns about mad cow disease.
At issue is the disease-detecting ability of the Brazilian government’s meat inspection service. The U.S. livestock industry is concerned about bovine spongiform encephalopathy, a neurological disorder that’s also known as mad cow disease.
Livestock groups are calling for U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to ban fresh Brazilian beef until meat testing is proven reliable. The ban has become more than a debate between cowboy-booted lobbyists and congressional lawmakers.
“They just should not be importing beef from Brazil. Period,” said Neil Glennie, who raises Angus calves near Judith Gap. “It’s just that they’ve had so many problems with hoof and mouth. And now with the mad cow, it just sounds like they’re really slow letting the world know what’s going on.”
Glennie points out this isn’t the first time the United States has considered a ban on Brazilian beef. In 2017, the United States banned beef from Brazil after it was revealed that several meat inspectors were involved in a kickback scheme, which allowed rotten meat to pass inspection. A chemical wash was used to mask the spoilage, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture investigation.