U.S. Cattle Producers: Halt Imports of Beef from Paraguay

(DECEMBER 4, 2023) – – Today, Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) introduced legislation to immediately halt the Paraguayan beef imports and establish a working group to evaluate the threat to food safety and animal health posed by beef imported from Paraguay. 

U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) president Justin Tupper issued the following statement on the legislation:

“The U.S. cattle industry has been absolutely clear on the immediate need to halt the importation of beef from countries such as Paraguay and Brazil. There are numerous reasons to take action, including the threat to the health of the domestic cattle herd, the associated food safety risks due to government corruption within these nations, the deforestation of critical ecosystems to support industry in these countries, and the use of forced labor practices.

“Senators Tester and Rounds continue to demand accountability and transparency from countries like Paraguay and Brazil. USCA strongly urges other Members of Congress to support these efforts and join the call for the immediate half of Paraguayan and Brazilian beef imports.”

Key Points: 

  •  The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) conducted inspections of Paraguay’s food supply chain in 2007, 2008, and 2014. The nearly ten-year gap since the last site visit does not inspire confidence in Paraguay’s animal health and food safety protocols.
  • The Regulatory Impact Analysis & Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis conducted by USDA fully admits, “APHIS does not consider Paraguay as free of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) because Paraguay vaccinates against FMD and vaccinated herd may not mean all the animals in the herd are FMD free. This may result in beef from an infected animal being imported.”
  • The deforestation risk per ton of Paraguayan beef is more than 10 times higher than that for Brazilian beef exports.
  • Brazil plays a leading role in Paraguay’s beef industry. A Brazilian global beef company operates four plants within the country’s borders, and another Brazilian company operates two plants. Only ten large slaughter plants, the majority of which are Brazilian-owned, account for 80 percent of the country’s total slaughter capacity. – Further, an Annual Livestock and Products report for Paraguay issued by USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service in 2022 acknowledges that, “There is significant inter-company trade by Brazilian owned slaughterhouses.”
  • USDA estimates that U.S. producers would suffer losses of $12 million to $23 million each year due to the increase of Paraguayan beef imports.