Last week, Senators Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., introduced the Foot and Mouth Disease Protection Act of 2008 in the Senate. Representatives Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., and Barbara Cubin, R-Wyo., introduced the bill in House on Wednesday. A large bi-partisan group of legislators in both houses signed on as co-sponsors. Thursday it was approved by the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and heads to the Senate Floor for a vote.
"This has been a big week for American ranchers and we're excited about all the support the Foot and Mouth Disease Prevention Act of 2008 is receiving," says Leo McDonnell, Director Emeritus of the U.S. Cattlemen Association. "From lawmakers to editorials in rural newspapers it seems like everybody in farm country is lining up behind this bill and it's easy to see why. This issue is very straightforward; Argentina has FMD, America doesn't and we'd like to keep it that way."
The bill prohibits the importation of Argentine ruminants and swine, or any fresh, chilled or frozen meat or product of any ruminant or swine born, raised or slaughtered in Argentina until the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture certifies to Congress that every region of Argentina is free of FMD without vaccination. Since January 2007 USDA has proposed allowing importation of cattle and meat from Argentina.
"There is no justification for relaxing import restrictions that protect the United States against the introduction of FMD," says R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. "The sponsors of this common-sense legislation recognize that the most effective prevention measure against FMD is to ensure that it is not imported into the U.S. from countries where FMD is known to exist or was recently detected. R-CALF USA appreciates the hard work that went into getting this measure to Congress, and we will continue to work hard to get it passed into law to protect the viability and profitability of the U.S. cattle industry."