Congressman Kelly Armstrong Pushes USDA for Justification on Lifting Brazilian Beef Ban

February 26, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Kelly Armstrong asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture today for “substantive justification” on its decision to lift the import ban on Brazilian beef and expressed concerns that Brazilian beef cannot meet the United States’ rigorous food safety standards.

“Brazilian beef imports have routinely failed to meet acceptable standards in the United States,” Armstrong wrote to Mindy M. Brashears, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety. “From pasture to plate, consumers should have confidence in knowing that their beef has passed rigorous inspection and met various health standards.”

Armstrong added that Brazilian beef imports could threaten the safety of our food supply and undermine the integrity of the domestic beef market that is already experiencing low cattle prices.

Click here to view the letter or read the text below:

Dear Deputy Undersecretary Brashears:

North Dakota's ranchers produce some of the best beef in the world. From pasture to plate, consumers should have confidence in knowing that their beef has passed rigorous inspection and met various health standards.

On June 22, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) suspended the import of fresh beef from Brazil due to repeated concerns about product safety. Prior to the suspension, FSIS was inspecting 100 percent of all Brazilian meat imports and refused entry to 11 percent of beef products, which was a substantially higher rate of rejection compared to other countries. While I support international trade, our partners must meet the same standards as domestic producers. Anything less is unacceptable.

Consumers should have confidence that the beef products they are feeding their families come from healthy animals that are processed in a sanitary facility. I have concerns that Brazilian beef imports cannot meet that standard and that Brazil will not be able to monitor and enforce adequate food standards. Lifting the ban on Brazilian beef imports would unfairly undermine the integrity of our domestic beef market and the safety of our food supply. With low cattle prices threatening the livelihood of our ranchers, now is not the time to further undermine these American producers with the import of questionable Brazilian beef.

Brazilian beef imports have routinely failed to meet acceptable standards in the United States. What substantive justification can FSIS provide as to why it lifted the ban on imported beef and how will inspectors conduct oversight of Brazil's beef imports?

I appreciate your attention to this issue.

Sincerely,

Kelly Armstrong
Member of Congress

Armstrong is serving his first term representing the state of North Dakota in the U.S. House of Representatives. He sits on the House Judiciary Committee, the House Oversight and Reform Committee, and the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.

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