USDA’s Animal and Plant Inspection Service (APHIS) proposed in late December to amend current regulations and allow fresh beef imports, under specific conditions, from some Brazilian states. The announcement came days after USDA and Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply (MAPA) issued a joint statement announcing the countries would work together on a path forward to address rules that limit bilateral beef trade.

The proposed regulatory change would allow the importation of chilled or frozen beef while continuing to protect the United States from an introduction of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). APHIS is proposing to allow fresh beef from the Brazilian states of Bahia, Distrito Federal, Espirito Santo, Goias, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Parana, Rio Grande do Sul, Rio de Janeiro, Rondonia, Sao Paulo, Sergipe, and Tocantins can be safely imported, provided certain conditions are met.

APHIS said based on a risk assessment and a series of site visits, Brazil has the veterinary infrastructure to detect and eradicate an FMD outbreak if necessary. Imported beef would be subject to regulations that would mitigate the risk of FMD introduction, including movement restrictions, inspections, removal of potentially affected parts and a maturation process. Additionally, according to APHIS, prior to importation, USDA’s FSIS must also determine Brazil as eligible to export fresh/frozen beef products after a final regulation by APHIS has been published.

According to a Regulatory Impact Analysis and Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, APHIS forecasts annual imports of fresh (chilled or frozen) beef from Brazil to range between 20,000 and 65,000 metric tons (MT), with volumes averaging 40,000 MT. According to APHIS, if the United States imported 40,000 MT of beef from Brazil, total U.S. beef imports would increase by less than 1 percent. APHIS also estimates that the wholesale price of beef, the retail price of beef, and the price of cattle (steers) would decline by 0.11 percent, 0.04 percent, and 0.14 percent, respectively.

“Economic effects of the rule for both U.S. producers and consumers are expected to be very small. Producers’ welfare would be negatively affected, but not significantly. Gains for consumers would outweigh producer losses, resulting in a net benefit to the U.S. economy.”

The proposed rule appeared in the December 23, 2013 Federal Register, and APHIS will accept comments through February 21, 2014. The proposed rule may be reviewed online at!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2009-0017-0010