ShareThis Page

Brazil to try to reverse US ban on Brazil meat

| Friday, June 23, 2017, 7:30 p.m.

SAO PAULO — Brazil's agriculture minister plans to travel to the United States to try to reverse the American ban of beef imports from Latin America's biggest country.

Blairo Maggi's posted social media comments on his trip and the ban late Thursday, hours after U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced in a statement the immediate suspension of all Brazilian fresh beef imports because of safety concerns.

The U.S. statement said suspension will remain in place until Brazil takes corrective action.

Maggi said Brazil will fight for the U.S. market and that he plans to head a mission to the United States to negotiate the resumption of Brazilian beef exports.

Perdue's decision was announced three months after a major scandal into allegations of bribed meat inspectors shook Brazil's meat industry and prompted several countries to temporarily halt imports.

Perdue said that since March, U.S. inspectors have refused entry to 11 percent of Brazilian fresh beef products, about 1.9 million pounds. “That figure is substantially higher than the rejection rate of one percent of shipments from the rest of the world,” the statement said.

The statement noted that Brazil had already addressed concerns of American inspectors by prohibiting five facilities from shipping beef to the U.S., but said that didn't go far enough.

Maggi attributed the USDA's safety concerns to the lumps some steers develop as a result of an allergic reaction to the vaccine against foot-and-mouth disease. He said the lumps did not represent a public health hazard.

“We must resolve this matter as quickly as possible because cattle breeding in Brazil is going through a very difficult moment with low market prices,” Maggi said.

The Brazilian Beef Exporters Association said in a statement it lamented the export suspension and that “adjustments to the production processes” are already underway and will be presented to the Agriculture Ministry's mission that will go to the United States.

In March, Brazilian authorities said they were investigating inspectors who allegedly allowed expired meats enter the market in exchange for bribes.

Several countries, including major importer China, temporarily stopped buying Brazilian meats. After assurances from Brazilian officials, most began buying again within a few weeks.

The episode had a large financial impact at a time when Latin America's biggest economy is struggling to emerge from its worst recession in a generation. For several weeks, the usual tens of millions of dollars in daily exports slowed to less than $100,000.

Brazil was the world's largest producer of beef and veal in 2016 and one of the top exporters, according to U.S. Agriculture Department. The country is also a major exporter of chicken and pork products.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.