Brazilian minister sees U.S. resuming beef imports in early 2018

Meatingplace, By Anna Flávia Rochas on 12/27/2017

 Brazil’s minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply expects the country to resume fresh beef exports to the United States in early 2018, he said during a press conference last week.

“I think that in the first few months of the year it will be possible to reverse this,” said Blairo Maggi, according to information released by the ministry on Friday.

Industry leaders said in November they expected sales of Brazilian beef to the U.S. to restart in the first quarter of 2018, following negotiations with U.S. authorities in September and delivery of documents in response to questions raised by U.S. veterinary authorities.

The U.S. announced the suspension of Brazilian fresh beef imports in June, due to “recurring concerns about the safety of the products.” From March to June of this year, 1.9 million pounds of Brazilian beef had been rejected by U.S. board authorities, according to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. The Brazilian industry attributed the blockage to abscesses in meat caused by reactions to vaccination against foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).

Brazil exported 14,175 tonnes of fresh beef to the U.S. in the first half of the year, before sales were blocked. Exports of processed and industrialized beef to the U.S. totaled 22,289 tonnes from January to November, generating US$ 210.6 million in revenues to Brazilian exporters, according to data released by Brazil’s beef industry association ABIEC earlier this month.

Sales to Russia

Maggi also expects Brazilian pork and beef exports to Russia to resume during the first few months of 2018. Russia has suspended all purchases of Brazilian pork meat and beef since earlier this month, after finding the growth additive ractopamine in some shipments.

“We are renegotiating the reopening of the meat market with Russia…We hope that in January or February, we will return to sell to Russia at full steam,” he said.

The minister said that the Brazilian meat industry improved its inspection system throughout 2017, following news related to the Federal Police’s Operation Weak Flesh investigation in March, which pointed out irregularities involving sanitary inspectors and some meat companies.

“We made changes to increase the confidence of importers and consumers in our inspection service. We have given security in order to avoid political interference in all procedures and we are creating a new, more modern inspection system,” Maggi said.