A USDA proposal outlining conditions for beef to enter the U.S. market from Paraguay is being met with stiff opposition from groups representing American producers.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service wrapped up a comment period last week on its proposed rule to allow Paraguayan fresh beef imports so long as the product meets a series of requirements, including verifying that it is not from a region where foot-and-mouth disease has been detected in the last 12 months.

American cattle groups say the proposal is concerning for the U.S. beef supply.

U.S. Cattlemen’s Association Justin Tupper pointed to the timeline of USDA’s underlying information – based on USDA visits most recently occurring in 2014 – and said the “nearly ten-year gap since the last site visit does not inspire confidence” in Paraguay’s regulatory approach. Tupper pointed to the possibility of an FMD outbreak – and APHIS’s own acknowledgment that Paraguay is not free of the disease – as a reason for grave concern for the safety of the U.S. cattle herd, if the proposal were to move forward.

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The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association also flagged its concerns with the dated information and the presence of FMD in the country. The organization, which has been staunchly in favor of growing international markets for U.S. beef, said expanding trade and diplomatic relations should be done cautiously.

“While winning friends and allies in South America may be part of the long-term interests of U.S. diplomacy, it should not be done on the backs of U.S. cattle producers or by putting at risk the health and livelihood of the safest and most efficient cattle and beef production system in the world,” NCBA trade lobbyist Kent Bacus said in the organization’s comments.

The comment period on the proposal closed Friday.

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