WASHINGTON — After a confirmed case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was discovered in Brazil in late February, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) urged Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to suspend beef imports from Brazil indefinitely.

In a letter to Vilsack, NCBA said Brazil’s decision to temporarily suspend exports to China after the atypical case of BSE was discovered was one reason for the proposed suspension in addition to what it said were long reporting times. According to the trade group and the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH), 35 days elapsed between the identification of the case and confirmation.

“We have seen Brazil repeatedly fail to meet the 24-hour requirement for reporting of animal diseases listed by WOAH,” said Todd Wilkinson, president of the NCBA. “In order to protect the safety and security of the US herd and American cattle producers, we demand USDA take immediate steps to block further beef imports from Brazil. Furthermore, we expect USDA to keep the border closed to Brazil until they can demonstrate that they are willing and able to play by the trade rules that govern all other nations. If they can’t play by the rules, they don’t deserve access. Secretary Vilsack needs to act now, rather than kicking the can down the road.”

In February, legislation was introduced in the US Senate to suspend imports until experts can verify the food safety and animal health risk. NCBA supported the legislation.

“For too long, American cattlemen and women have honored the laws governing international trade, promoting fair and equitable standards, only to have nations like Brazil ignore those same standards,” Wilkinson added. “Brazil cannot be allowed to benefit from the investments we have made to build a massive demand for beef around the globe. If trade partners like Brazil fail to follow the rules, there must be consequences, they must be painful and immediate.”

NCBA also called for a suspension of Brazilian beef in April 2022 following another BSE case.

The entire NCBA letter sent to Vilsack can be read here