APHIS Extends the Comment Period for the Proposed Rule on the Importation of Fresh Beef from a Region in Northern Argentina
Last week, USDA APHIS reopened and announced a 60-day extension to the comment period for the proposed rule that would allow the importation of fresh beef from northern Argentina. The new deadline to submit comments is December 29, 2014.
With over 70 documents posted to the Federal Register docket regarding this proposed rule, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, along with the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, and the Academy of Veterinary Consultants firmly believe that additional time is required to review and evaluate this extensive number of supporting documents. Over 25 percent of the supporting documents required obtaining independent English translations prior to their review because upon request, USDA APHIS was unable to provide translated documents for review.
Because USDA APHIS does not recognize countries or regions that continue to vaccinate against FMD as free of the disease, APHIS cannot recognize the northern Argentina region as free of FMD. Yet, APHIS can evaluate the risk presented by fresh/frozen beef products imported under specific conditions. The proposed rule to allow the importation of fresh beef from northern Argentina is based on this situation and the results of an APHIS risk assessment for FMD risk in the region.
A bipartisan Members of Congress recently signed a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting an audit of the APHIS site review process to verify animal health data from requesting export countries that is used in the APHIS risk assessment process. Questions regarding transparency issues, established and consistent methodology and the use of appropriate management controls currently exist for these APHIS site visits.
NCBA is in the process of carefully reviewing all available supporting documentation in order to file comprehensive comments concerning our opposition to the proposed rule.