Common Sense Prevails Over NCBA ‘Free Trade’ Rhetoric;
Appropriations Committee Approves FMD Bill
Washington, D.C. – Sen. Tim Johnson’s bill titled “The Foot and Mouth Disease Prevention Act of 2008” has passed the Appropriations Committee and will now go to the Senate for a floor vote. Since January 2007, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) had proposed to allow into the U.S. imports of higher risk cattle and beef products from Argentina, a country that is not considered free of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).
“Since March of 2007, R-CALF USA has been actively involved in securing legislation that would prohibit any imports from Argentina because of its recent history of FMD, and we would like to sincerely express our thanks to both Senator Johnson, D-S.D., and Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., who sponsored this bill, and the many co-sponsors who also took the lead on this important matter, as well as the leaders on the House side who are also taking action to prevent the introduction of FMD into the United States,” said R-CALF USA President/Region VI Director Max Thornsberry, a Missouri veterinarian who also chairs the group’s animal health committee.
Just yesterday, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) – a group that claims to represent cattle producers – urged Congress in a memo to vote in opposition of the FMD prevention measure so that USDA would have sole discretion on Argentine imports.
“USDA has been abusing its discretionary authority by allowing its goal of promoting more imports into the U.S. to trump its primary responsibility to protect the U.S. against the introduction and spread of foreign animal diseases,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. “We are genuinely pleased that Congress is stepping forward to ensure that needed disease protections remain in place.
“It is time to restore the United States’ reputation of producing the most wholesome and safest beef in the world, and under the best of conditions, which means we must strengthen our import standards, not weaken them,” he emphasized. “It is in our nation’s interest to do all we can to maintain the security of our food supply, both for our consumers and export customers. If FMD were to hit the U.S.cattle industry, you can rest assured our trading partners would seek their beef supplies somewhere else.”
Note: To view NCBA’s memo, visit the “Animal Health” link at www.r-calfusa.com, or contact R-CALF USA Communications Coordinator Shae Dodson to request a copy.
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R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. R-CALF USA represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on trade and marketing issues. Members are located across 47 states and are primarily cow/calf operators, cattle backgrounders, and/or feedlot owners. R-CALF USA has dozens of affiliate organizations and various main-street businesses are associate members. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516.