US beef inspectors flee Mexico as violence ramps up

by Bryan Salvage
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WACO, Texas – Increasing drug violence in Mexico has resulted in US beef inspectors moving their operations north of the Mexican border, according to the Texas Farm Bureau. Previously, inspections were completed before cattle crossed the border, but now the danger is too high for federal inspectors to remain.

“I think it’s fair to say that the facilities located in Mexico presented a wide variety of risks and threats, and our employees did not feel safe going to those facilities every day,” said Lyndsay Cole, US Department of Agriculture spokeswoman in an Associated Press story.

However, some Texas beef producers are concerned about these changes in inspection locations. Producers charge that infections, long eradicated in the US but still present in Mexico, could make a comeback if cattle are not inspected until crossing the border.

During the past three years, USDA figures show an average 955,000 cattle and calves were imported into the US from Mexico annually. In 2010, Texas accounted for more than half the total — 511,719 feeder steers and heifers, according to the Texas Department of Agriculture.

Discovery of the fever tick parasite outside a traditional border-wide quarantine zone could cost the multi-billion-dollar Texas cattle industry an estimated $123 million the first year alone, a 2010 study by the Texas A&M University Agriculture and Food Policy Center estimates.

Although USDA officials say that the change in inspection sites will only be temporary, there are no plans of US inspectors returning, one report claims.
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