Brazil Urges Farmers to Kill All Cattle in Areas Hit by Foot and Mouth Disease

Brazil’s Minister of Agriculture, Roberto Rodrigues, said he hopes that the Brazilian states affected by hoof and mouth disease opt for the total destruction of herds that run the risk of contamination.

In a public hearing Wednesday, October 26, he explained to members of the Senate Agriculture Commission that this is a prerequisite for the country to resume normal exportation.

Several of the 45 countries that suspended purchases of Brazilian beef imposed the embargo on the entire country. Others, even before the announcement of suspected focuses (still unconfirmed by laboratory tests) in Paraná, banned meat from that state, as well as from Mato Grosso do Sul – where the first focus was identified on October 8 – and São Paulo.

Only Argentina limited the embargo exclusively to meat from the interdicted zone in Mato Grosso do Sul, covering a 25 kilometer radius and including the municipalities of Eldorado, Japorã, Itaquiraí­, Iguatemi, and Mundo Novo.

Today, the Ministry of Agriculture confirmed the appearance of another focus in Eldorado. The 24 animals on the Floresta Branca Ranch have already been put down, even though only three manifested symptoms of the disease. When infected by the hoof and mouth virus, cattle present high fever, blisters inside the mouth, intense salivation, and blisters on the feet.

Rodrigues also said that, if cattle breeders in the affected areas opt for what is referred to as sanitary butchering, which is the destruction of only the sick animals, the country will only resume normal exportation 12 months after the disease is controlled.

It is even possible, the minister pointed out, that the period of commercial restrictions will continue for 18 months, if the country fails to prove that sanitary measures were adopted.

"This definition depends to a great extent on the damages," he said. The Minister cited a study conducted recently by the ícone Brasil consulting firm, specialized in the agricultural sector, on the damages that the current focuses of hoof and mouth disease could cause the country. "The losses could amount to US$ 1 billion for beef and US$ 600 million for pork," he added.

In Rodrigues’ view, state governments must adopt a national perspective to reach the decision to demand the total destruction of herds on properties where the disease has appeared.

He acknowledged that the losses are substantial and announced the decision to indemnify producers to compensate them for their losses.

It is expected that President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will sign a Temporary Executive Order today allocating resources for indemnities and additional funds for surveillance activities in Mato Grosso do Sul.

The measure will make available a total of US$ 14 million (33 million reais): US$ 8.7 million (20 million reais) for ranchers who have to put down their animals; US$ 2.6 million (6 million reais) for small dairy producers in the affected zones; US$ 2.6 million (6 million reais) for the installation of inspection, logistics, and transportation posts; and US$ 436,000 (1 million reais) for other sanitary protection activities.

The resources may also be used on behalf of cattle breeders in Paraná, if the suspected focuses in four municipalities announced on Friday, October 21, by the state department of Agriculture are confirmed. The results of the laboratory tests should be known by Friday, October 28.

Agência Brasil

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