Thirty-four organizations, representing livestock associations, consumer groups, trade groups and manufacturing interests, are jointly participating in the Coalition to Protect the Health of the U.S. Livestock Herd to convince the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to immediately withdraw its plans to lift foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) restrictions for Brazil.
In response to USDA’s April 16, 2010, proposed rule to lift FMD restrictions for the Brazilian State of Santa Catarina, the Coalition to Protect the Health of the U.S. Livestock Herd recently issued a Q & A Factsheet titled “Questions and Answers: USDA’s Plan to Lift FMD Restrictions for Brazil Through International ‘Regionalization’  ” (Factsheet).
The Factsheet describes how USDA is weakening the United States’ defenses against the introduction of dangerous livestock diseases like FMD by implementing the more lenient strategies advocated by the World Trade Organization (WTO) to facilitate global trade in livestock and livestock products with countries that continue to experience disease outbreaks. The WTO’s more lenient strategy is known as regionalization, and USDA is attempting to implement regionalization in Brazil to facilitate trade with Brazil even though USDA considers all of Brazil to be affected by FMD.
The Factsheet describes USDA’s efforts since 1997 to regionalize other FMD countries, and points out that those previous efforts were met with repeated failures as new FMD outbreaks soon occurred in the very regions that USDA claimed were unlikely to become re-infected with FMD. The Factsheet also debunks claims that the U.S. must agree to the heightened risk associated with the regionalization of foreign countries to prevent widespread export market closures should an outbreak of FMD reoccur in the United States. The Factsheet states, “The regionalization of foreign disease-affected countries increases the United States’ risk of FMD introduction, without providing the United States with any compensation or benefit.”
The Coalition to Protect the Health of the U.S. Livestock Herd submitted its Factsheet to select members of Congress, as well as to USDA as a comment in the agency’s open rulemaking for the proposed FMD rule. Concerned citizens are encouraged to obtain a copy of the Factsheet and send it to their respective congressional delegations to encourage Congress to take steps to block USDA’s efforts to weaken U.S. livestock disease protections.
The 34 groups participating in the Coalition to Protect the Health of the U.S. Livestock Herd include: American Agriculture Movement, Inc., BueLingo Beef Cattle Society, California Farmers Union, Cattle Producers of Washington, Citizens for Private Property Rights (Missouri), Colorado Independent CattleGrowers Association, Coalition for a Prosperous America, Dakota Rural Action, Food & Water Watch, Freedom21, Inc., Idaho Rural Council, Independent Beef Association of North Dakota, Independent Cattleman of Nebraska, Independent Cattlemen of Wyoming, International Texas Longhorn Association, Intertribal Agricultural Council, Michigan Farmers Union, Mississippi Livestock Markets Association, Missouri's Best Beef Co-Operative, Missouri Farmers Union, National Association of Farm Animal Welfare, Nebraska Farmers Union, Nevada Live Stock Association, Ohio Farmers Union, Organization for Competitive Markets, Pennsylvania Farmers Union, R-CALF USA, SmallHolders Alliance of Massachusetts, Socially Responsible Agriculture Project, South Dakota Livestock Auction Markets Association, South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, Sovereignty International, Inc., Texas Longhorn Marketing Alliance, and Tooling, Manufacturing & Technologies Association.