WASHINGTON – The US Department of Agriculture is considering an amendment to its current regulations to allow imports of chilled or frozen beef from specific states in Brazil.

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) made the proposal based on a risk assessment and several site visits. The agency believes that Brazil has the veterinary infrastructure and capabilities to detect and effectively eradicate an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak. Measures that would protect the United States from the introduction of FMD include movement restrictions, removal of potentially affected parts and a maturation process. Also, the Food Safety and Inspection Service must also determine Brazil as eligible to export fresh/frozen beef products after a final regulation by APHIS has been published.

In a joint statement, Michael T. Scuse, Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services and the Brazil Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food (MAPA), said: "The United States and Brazil are two of the world's largest agricultural producers and exporters. Over the last 20 years, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Brazil's Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food Supply (MAPA) have collaborated on many agriculture issues and currently have some 100 agricultural cooperative activities. As global leaders in the use of innovative agricultural production technologies, both countries share a keen interest in exploring further agricultural cooperation.

"Both Brazil and the United States maintain a strong commitment to science-based rulemaking. USDA and MAPA recently agreed to a path forward to amend rules that currently limit bilateral beef trade. Bilateral trade of all beef and beef products could occur once each exporting country meets the importing country's equivalence and technical requirements for animal health and food safety."

APHIS expects the proposed regulation change to be published in the Dec. 23, 2013 Federal Register. The agency will consider in its deliberations comments received on or before Feb. 21, 2014.  Submit comments to:

• Federal eRulemaking Portal:  Go to www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2009-0017-0001
• Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery:  Send your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2009-0017, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, MD  20737-1238.