The red meat industry and particularly beef seems to be facing big issues in the last month. While all food industries have problems arise the beef industry not only struggles with outside forces they fight within the industry adding to the turmoil.
Between Country of Origin Labeling (CoOL) repeal and the opening up for importation of meat from Brazil and Argentina, both countries with known Foot and Mouth Disease the Beef Industry and producers are stirred up to a frenzy.
While losing CoOL may be a drawback to being able to promote US beef, the importation of fresh chilled meat from Brazil and Argentina come with the risk of destroying the industry. As early as May 2015 the organization Food and Water Watch was putting out warnings of the USDA’s attempt to sneak the approval of these countries imports by the public. (http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/pressreleases/usda-sneaks-beef-import-approvals-from-brazil-and-argentina/)
There are many factors contributing to this seemingly contrary move by the USDA which are basically trade based related to WTO and NAFTA. If we want others to honor our zoning of diseased areas in the event of future disease outbreaks then we need to honor theirs now. What should terrify the beef industry is the question, “Will we survive a disease outbreak?” The recent, May 2015, report from the United States Governmental Accountability Office, “Federal Veterinarians- Efforts Needed to Improve Workforce Planning” basically states the US isn’t ready for FMD.
“USDA participated in a government-wide study to estimate the veterinarians needed to respond to animal disease outbreaks, but because of limitations in the study, the estimates are not reliable for purposes of effective emergency response planning. For example, the estimates were based on a USDA model that had not been verified or validated. Moreover, USDA has not developed a detailed plan to augment or train its workforce to respond to an economically devastating or highly contagious outbreak. Without reliable estimates of the veterinarians needed or how it will augment and train its workforce, USDA cannot ensure it will have enough veterinarians to adequately respond.”
It is up to the red meat producer to educate themselves. Disease outbreak control starts at the county level. Each producer should ensure that their county or area has some sort of plan and training. There should be strong effort to ensure that your State is prepared as there is no Knight in Shining Armor coming to save our industry at this point. The responsibility to demand preparedness rests on our shoulders.