Beef imports and exports across the world have been shaped by incidences of foot and mouth disease for well over decade. For many countries the disease has had a severe impact on agriculture and in some cases has had macroeconomic impacts that have limited countries from obtaining incomes derived from foreign sources.
For countries where beef farming forms an important part of the economy the effects have been devastating. Not only are farmers affected, but the entire economy suffers. Countries such as Argentina and Brazil are only two of the South American countries where the impact of foot and mouth disease has been extreme, specifically when it comes to the reluctance of the United States to restrict beef imports from these countries.
It was only in 2015 that the United States in close cooperation with authorities from both Argentina and Brazil began a process to normalize relations as far as the import of beef into America was concerned. However, both of these countries will still have to meet certain regulatory milestones and comply with regulations covering food safety in order to ensure that they continue to have access to the American market.
A schedule of inspections in both in the United States and in country in both Brazil and Argentina will ensure that the required quality standards and safety standards are being met when it comes to the imports from the two Latin American countries.
However not everyone is happy that the ban is being lifted, The U.S. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) said that it would oppose the decision on the grounds that the threat of infection of American beef cattle was till real and that any moves to lift the ban threatened the livelihoods of beef farmers cross the country.
The NCBA has a vested interest in slowing or even stopping the import of beef from both Argentina and Brazil. Both of these countries have a significant export potential when it comes to beef. Prior to the ban in 2014 Brazil alone exported beef products worth in the region of $217 million. That was around 37,000 of processed beef products. Commenting on the lifting of the ban the Brazilian Agricultural Ministry sated that the country could easily be exporting up to 100,000 tonnes of beef products to the United Sates within 5 years.
Both Brazile and Argentina both certainly have the capacity to up exports to the U.S. – both are powerhouses of beef production. For instance Brazil exported beef products worth $7.2 billion to countries such as Hong Kong and Russia. The European Union is also a big customer. Those exports consisted of 1.56 million tonnes of products.
The potential of Brazil and Argentina (as well as other Latin American countries) to increase the level of competition for market share is something that will be at top of mind awareness for both beef lobbying groups and the American beef farmer. However the impact on the buying power of the consumer has yet to be seen.