By John Klar
A controversial initiative by the Biden Administration proposes to permit the importation into the US of fresh beef from Paraguay. Many industry stakeholders protest that this will expose American agriculture to the risks of foot-and-mouth disease, with potentially devastating socioeconomic consequences. Climate warriors increasingly target cows as destructive, and now Biden risks the entire US cow (and pig) industries to improve diplomatic relations with corrupt Paraguay. The economic risks are mammoth.
As the COVID pandemic illustrated, pathogens do not abide by governmental regulations and easily transcend porous borders. Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is generally non-fatal to humans but is absolutely devastating to livestock – especially pigs and cows, which are more vulnerable. Yet the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) under Joe Biden has finalized regulations to open US markets to Paraguayan beef imports despite that nation’s history of FMD and rampant corruption.
American Farmers United
American farming industry interests are unanimously up in arms against this plan, claiming there is no current data on Paraguayan safety protocols, and that animals from other countries not subject to oversight will end up in Paraguay’s beef stream. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) asserts “… that the conclusions drawn in the proposed rule are based on outdated information that does not adequately calculate the risk to U.S. consumers and the U.S. cattle herd. The United States Cattlemen’s Association and American Farm Bureau Federation also strongly oppose the rule change.”
Those risks are profound. A recent FMD outbreak in Indonesia suspected to have been caused by an illegal animal importation devastated that country’s economy and food supply. A 2001 outbreak in the UK cost that economy an estimated $20 billion. An outbreak in the United States would threaten the nation’s 90 million dairy and beef cows as well as its swine and other livestock industries. FMD also impacts wildlife species, yet further causing damage and complicating eradication efforts.
Foot and Mouth
The United States has not recorded a case of FMD since 1929 and has instituted rigorous prevention practices to safeguard its cattle industry. The disease begins with a high fever, and then develops into sores in the mouth and on hooves. FMD is highly contagious, requiring intensive countermeasures including vaccination and the slaughter of both infected and healthy animals. This is a disease that can wipe out whole industries overnight and promises to do so again.
The global presence in livestock of FMD is estimated to be 77%; the disease is enzootic (endemic) in South America, which is why Paraguay has struggled to control outbreaks for decades. The chief cause of outbreaks is usually illegally transported animals or inconsistent compliance with farm biosecurity measures, which makes corrupt Paraguay a particularly risky agricultural trade partner for an FMD-free mega-economy like America. One almost wonders if the seeds of a livestock crisis are being deliberately sown by recklessly importing dodgy meats against the cacophony of industry voices opposing the move.
Biden Ending Corruption?
Paraguay’s government enjoys a dubious reputation as an extremely corrupt cabal. President Biden, eager to establish himself as a foe of corruption (despite increasing scrutiny of his own conduct), has pushed hard to welcome Paraguay to the commerce table. The fear is that Biden’s crusade against foreign corruption may irrevocably corrupt the US food supply. As Foreign Policy noted last year:
“… corruption remains rampant, and government efforts to combat it continue to be underwhelming. Investigations have suffered setbacks; judicial processes have languished; transnational criminal activities in Paraguay have spiked; the Biden administration has now homed in on Paraguay to showcase its fight against global corruption.”
Trusting Paraguay to properly regulate its beef industry, prevent smuggling, and implement safety protocols is a bridge too far for US stakeholders. But it is exactly that rickety bridge onto which Joe Biden is dragging American consumers and agriculture. If the plan is to eradicate all cows, importing sketchy products from racketeers is the globalist way to go. Then Americans would have no choice but to dine on insect burgers or synthetic beef grown in labs.
If FMD infects the US biosphere, the impacts on the economy and global food supply will be swift and far-reaching. The stakes for importing Paraguayan steaks are astronomical. The gamble is simply too great.