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Senate passes CRA to ban Paraguay beef imports

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

In an overwhelming show of bipartisan support, a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution, crafted by U.S. Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Mike Rounds (R-SD), was passed by the Senate on a 70 to 25 vote on March 21. 

This CRA would overturn the Biden administration’s decision to lift a long-standing ban on beef imports from Paraguay, a country with a history of foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreaks. 

“President Biden butchered this decision,” states Tester. “By cutting corners to resume beef imports from a country with a recent history of FMD, the Biden administration is jeopardizing our food supply and giving consumers and producers a raw deal.”

“We cannot allow beef imports from Paraguay until we have data which shows they are meeting the same high animal health standards as American ranchers, and I’m proud to have secured overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate to force the Biden administration to reverse course,” he adds.

The resolution will now move to the House for consideration. 

Raising concerns

Tester and Rounds’ CRA was created in response to a rule finalized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in November 2023, which would allow the U.S. to import fresh beef from Paraguay. 

After conducting a risk analysis, APHIS determined fresh beef could be “imported safely from Paraguay under certain conditions.”

According to APHIS, these conditions require “FMD has not been diagnosed in the exporting region in the past 12 months, the meat comes from premises where FMD has not been present during the lifetime of any of the animals and the animals were inspected before and after death.” 

APHIS’s rule raised concern among those in the ag industry, many of which argued the agency’s analysis was based on flawed data, and Paraguay’s inspection processes are not up to U.S. standards. 

In fact, in a National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Beltway Beef podcast, released in December – a month after APHIS released the rule – NCBA Director of Government Affairs Kent Bacus states, “One of our key concerns is the fact when APHIS visited sites in Paraguay in 2008 and 2014, they did not have proper protocols in place to gather information accurately.”

“We can’t make a risk assessment off of old data that could potentially be flawed,” he adds.

Jaclyn Wilson, chair of NCBA’s International Trade Committee and a Nebraska rancher, joined Bacus on the podcast, stating, “The main message is we don’t believe the information used to arrive at this decision is 100 percent accurate. We think it deserves review, and we want USDA to take the prudent steps to be cautious before we open up access to a country which may not be up to our standards.”

Industry support 

NCBA is one of many agricultural organizations who have offered Tester and Rounds their support. 

Other groups endorsing the resolution include the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA), R-CALF USA, the Livestock Marketing Association (LMA), the National Farmers Union (NFU) and multiple state-level organizations. 

“USDA’s decision to allow Paraguayan beef imports into the U.S. creates an unnecessary risk to the health and safety of the U.S. cattle herd,” says Bacus. “U.S. cattle producers are held to the highest food safety and animal health standards in the world, and any trade partner must be able to demonstrate they can meet those same standards.”

“Given Paraguay’s long history of FMD disease outbreaks, it is simply too risky to allow Paraguayan imports without recent site visits to confirm Paraguay’s safety claims,” he continues. “U.S. cattle producers are thankful for the leadership of Sens. Tester and Rounds for applying the CRA to hold USDA accountable and protect our nation’s cattle herd.”

USCA President Justin Tupper agrees animal health and safety is paramount and believes the USDA’s risk analysis, which occurred almost a decade ago, is outdated. 

He says, “Further, in its regulatory impact analysis, USDA fully admits there is a real possibility we could import beef from an animal infected by FMD. An outbreak of FMD in the U.S. would be devastating for both producers and consumers, causing lasting financial losses between $33 and $93 billion.”

“Importing beef from Paraguay risks undermining consumer trust in the safety and quality of domestic beef,” comments NFU President Rob Larew. “Given the unresolved concerns about Paraguay’s quality standards and regulatory system, Sens. Tester and Rounds’ leadership in pushing to reinstate the ban is crucial.”

LMA President Mark Barnett also applauds the senators for “standing up for the health of the U.S. cattle industry.” 

“The irresponsible decision to allow fresh Paraguay beef imports based on outdated site visits and inadequate data is an unacceptable risk for hardworking beef producers in this country,” he states.

R-CALF Chief Executive Officer Bill Bullard remarks, “We applaud Sens. Tester and Rounds for protecting the integrity of America’s beef supply. The USDA’s reliance on outdated inspections of Paraguayan food safety protocols is unacceptable. We urge swift passage of this critical measure.”

Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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