Brazil’s Cattle Disease Spreads to 5 States and Could Cost US$ 30 Billion

Brazil created Tuesday, October 25, a special inter-ministerial task force to coordinate efforts in combating the outbreak of foot and mouth disease that has expanded to several southern states, while neighboring Argentina is ready to declare a sanitary alert given the proximity of the area involved.

The decree published in the Diário Oficial (Brazilian Federal Gazette) states that the task force must also discuss with other countries the trade restrictions imposed on Brazil because of FAM and address the socio-economic impact of the disease, which has punished mainly small and medium sized farms.

A second decree refers to the bird flu pandemic and contingency measures since Brazil as with beef, is the world’s leading exporter of poultry meat.

The original FAM outbreak reported October 10 in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul reached the state of Paraná via a cattle show and from there has spread to São Paulo, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. Several thousand head of cattle which supposedly were exposed to FAM have been sacrificed and more are waiting in line.

However Brazil is deeply concerned that some of the more than forty countries that have banned the import of Brazilian beef have now extended the decision to other farm produce claiming possible sources of contagion.

Anywhere between 20 and 30 billion US dollars in foreign sales could be involved if the ban is extended to pork, (Brazil is the world’s third exporter), lamb, soybean flour, veterinary medicines and equipment and other commodities that could be considered a means of spreading FAM.

Brazilian beef shipments have dropped 30% in a week and all cattle killed after September 30 in the five states with FAM outbreaks have been banned for export.

Regarding bird flu Agriculture Minister Rodrigo Rodriguez and Industry and Trade minister Luiz Fernando Furlan held several meetings with poultry farmers’ organizations to agree on preventive measures as well as imposing strict sanitary controls in air terminals, ports and other accesses to the country.

Brazil was forecasted to establish a new record export year totaling 108 billion US dollars with a 42 billion surplus.

Meantime Argentina’s Food and Agriculture Sanitary Service, Senasa, is ready to declare a sanitary alert and has reinforced checkpoints along the border with Brazil, and Paraguay, which is being blamed as the endemic source of "0" strain FAM.

This week Argentina banned beef from the five Brazilian states involved and imposed greater restrictions on genetic material imports alleging among other things that Brazil during the nineties purchased bovine semen from United Kingdom.

Brazilian states are also complaining and blaming the federal government for the outbreak and spread of FAM.

"We’re losing ten years of hard work in eliminating FAM in Paraná because the federal government is more concerned in paying international creditors than in looking after Brazil. Shame on President Lula da Silva", emphasized Paraná Governor Roberto Requião.

But Agriculture Minister Rodriguez argued the situation is under control.

"It’s clear there’s an only original FAM outbreak", which began in Eldorado, Mato Grosso do Sul.

The other outbreaks in that state and Paraná, São Paulo "can be tracked to that first outbreak", added Mr. Rodriguez.

The Agriculture minister underlined that one of the main jobs of the inter-ministerial task force will be to challenge trade restrictions imposed on Brazil alleging FAM, and "if necessary we’ll go all the way to the World Trade Organization".

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

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