Brazilian beef imports into the United States have been banned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA announced immediate suspension of imports of fresh beef from Brazil after inspections had uncovered concerns over public health, issues with animal health and unsanitary conditions.
The federal agency said the current ban is to remain in place until corrective action is taken by Brazil.
Brazil is the No. 5 largest supplier to the U.S. for beef ranking behind just Canada, Australia, Mexico and New Zealand. Since the beginning of 2017, Brazil has exported over 50 million pounds of beef destined for the U.S.
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said that although international trade remains a big part of what the USDA does and Brazil remains a one of the country’s long time partners, the first priority as agricultural secretary is protecting the American consumer.
The USDA said it has inspected all imports of meat from Brazil since this past March, and refused entry of approximately 11% of the fresh beef from the South American country.
It said the figure was far higher than the rejection rate related to the rest of the world, a figure that is estimated to be no higher than 1%.
In a prepared statement, the Brazilian Association of Beef Industry announced that corrective policies to adapt processes of production are being taken already.
The United States is Brazil’s beef exporters’ ninth largest market. Foreign Trade Association of Brazil President Jose Augusto de Castro said the beef ban was very negative news for the beef industry.
He added that it took a many years for the American market to be opened and the news is horrible that our meat has now been banned.
The beef production in Brazil has for months been in great turmoil after it came to light that some of the meat producers had been allegedly bribing inspectors to certify their meat that had been either salmonella tainted or rotten.
The European Union, Hong Kong, Japan, Chile, Mexico and China all banned Brazilian meat imports as of March.
In response to the alleged bribes, the government of Brazil shut down three meat plants and suspended export licenses for 21 of the country’s meat packing plants.
Brazil has been hit hard by a wave of corruption within the government that caused the impeachment of former president Dilma Rousseff and has put a great deal of pressure on acting President Michael Temer.