Foot and Mouth Disease Spreads to Another State in Brazil

Forty cattle farms in the southern Brazilian state of Paraná, which borders with Paraguay and Argentina, have been quarantined under suspicion of having animals with foot and mouth disease, reports the Brazilian press.

The 40 farms have an estimated herd of 4.400 cattle of which twenty have clear signs of FAM and apparently are linked to the original outbreaks in the neighboring state of Mato Grosso do Sul at the beginning of the month.

"The blood tests results will be ready by Monday and there’s a 90% chance that the outbreaks will be confirmed as FAM", admitted Brazilian Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply Roberto Rodrigues.

Brazilian federal officials and from the state of Paraná also confirmed that cattle from Mato Grosso do Sul, which participated at the recent Euro-Zebu agro-show in the town of Londrina, earlier this month was the cause of the latest 14 outbreaks officially reported.

During the Londrina show 949 Zebu cattle from Mato Grosso do Sul were auctioned to 26 different destinations, most of which have been tracked to the forty farms in the state of Paraná said Felisberto Baptista head of Paraná’s Animal health.

However Baptista was emphatic that no cattle had been sent to Rio Grande do Sul, which has an important beef industry and borders with Argentina and Uruguay.

In Porto Alegre, capital of Rio Grande do Sul, the influential daily newspaper Zero Hora in its main Sunday editorial severely criticized Brazilian federal authorities for having brutally "pruned" the Ministry of Agriculture budget thus revealing the fragility of the "government’s policy to combat and prevent plagues and diseases in agriculture and livestock, two crucial areas for Brazil’s trade balance".

Apparently in its financial avidity the federal government retained most of resources which should have been invested in phytosanitary vigilance, "a saving of 107 million reais (approximately US$ 50 million), which can endanger exports of US$ 17.3 billion", claims Zero Hora.

The US$ 17,3 billion are the total overseas sales of different meats (beef, pork, poultry), fruit, sugar, cocoa, coffee, soybean and orange juice in the first eight months of 2005.

"These products are exposed to plagues and diseases which demand permanent control, but a policy of containing expenditure, has in practical terms, made those actions non viable", insists the newspaper adding that the Ministry of Agriculture never openly complained about budget restrictions.

Brazilian beef exports reached 2,1 billion US dollars in the first eight months, but the FAM outbreak losses in exports and for farmers originally estimated in a billion US dollars could become incommensurable with the confirmation of new outbreaks and over forty countries having banned Brazilian beef, concludes Zero Hora.

"Brazil could cease to be the world’s leading beef exporter. It will take more than two years to recover our global position if we don’t control the situation," said Brazil’s National Farm Federation’s Antonio Donizeti.

Exports from Mato Grosso do Sul, Paraná and adjoining states have been banned, and Brazil is attempting to shift production to states isolated from the outbreak and not subject to most of the bans, which include Russia, the European Union and several South American countries.

Mr. Donizeti added that negotiations with the United States, which he said were advanced, might be scrapped as a consequence of the outbreak. Until the outbreak, Brazil had been on track to export $3 billion worth of beef this year, up from $2.5 billion in 2004.

Brazilian president Lula da Silva accused Brazilian farmers of "negligence" and said that the "world addressed the (FAM) problem more seriously than certain sectors in Brazil"

Press reports from Brasí­lia indicate that the Frontier Operations Department has a report blaming the outbreak on Mato Grosso do Sul farmers for having smuggled cattle from neighboring Paraguay since the "O" FAM strain is the most common in that country.

However Paraguayan Agriculture Minister Gustavo Ruiz Diaz replied angrily claiming Brazil had sent spies to inspect Paraguayan cattle, "and this happened well before they admitted the existence of foot and mouth disease in their territory".

"They came into Paraguay, checked and didn’t find anything," underlined Ruiz Diaz.

This article appeared originally in Mercopress – www.mercopress.com.

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