WASHINGTON – Members of the US House Appropriations Committee agreed to block imports of fresh beef from Brazil and Argentina pending further study on the potential risk of foot and mouth disease taking hold in the United States.

The committee passed an amendment to the fiscal 2016 Agriculture Appropriations bill which requires the US Department of Agriculture to develop a comprehensive FMD risk evaluation in addition to site inspections at processing plants in both countries. The committee approved the amendment by voice vote.

In late June, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service amended its regulations to allow imports of fresh (chilled or frozen) beef from Brazil and Argentina, but only under specific conditions aimed at minimizing the risk of FMD. The rules were to take effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

The committee approved the FY2016 Agriculture Appropriations bill on a voice vote on July 8. The bill totals $20.65 billion in discretionary funding, which is 1 percent lower than the FY2015 enacted amount and $1.1 billion below the President’s budget request. The overall bill totals $143.9 billion, including both discretionary and mandatory funding for various nutrition programs.