After Europe's food experts concluded that Brazil's as well as its neighbors' health regulations had been met, the European Union decided to once again allow imports of fresh meat from more areas of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.
"Recently, the competent authorities of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay have made considerable efforts to improve the animal health situation in their respective countries, and in particular as regards foot and mouth disease," according to a statement from the EU executive commission released this week.
In Argentina, exporters in parts of the Patagonian provinces of Neuquén and Río Negro will be allowed to ship different types of meat to the 27-nation bloc.
In Brazil, the world's biggest beef exporter, the states of Paraná and São Paulo, both important farming centers, received authorization for export of de-boned and matured beef, two years after they were barred because of outbreaks of FAM and non compliance with traceability procedures.
Ranchers in Paraguay gained clearance for exports of the same products added the statement. Last January, the European Union suspended all beef imports from Brazil, citing food safety concerns about the meat's lack of traceability. Ireland and the United Kingdom farmers unions have lobbied strongly against beef imports from South America.
The EU eased those restrictions in February but has still been allowing beef shipments only from 106 Brazilian farms. Brazilian officials have stated that the EU embargo was "unjustifiable and arbitrary."
The Commission said the latest decision to relax the ban on exporters in São Paulo and Paraná states meant they would now have to comply with the special requirements for Brazilian beef exporters as a whole.
Brazil's government said it will soon start inspections in São Paulo and Paraná farms to select those that comply with local traceability rules. EU will then give a decision on whether it approves imports from the farms.
"The authorization is a consequence of the recognition that both states are free of foot and mouth disease with vaccination by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) late in May," the Brazilian Agriculture Ministry said in a statement.
Farms currently allowed to export to the European market are located in Minas Gerais, Goiás, Rio Grande do Sul, Mato Grosso, Espírito Santo and Santa Catarina states.