Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., and Rep. Barbara Cubin, R-Wyo., along with co-sponsors Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., Rep. Nancy Boyda, D-Kan., Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Wis., and Rep. Cathy McMorris, R-Wash., introduced legislation titled “The Foot and Mouth Disease Protection Act of 2008” to protect the U.S. from the introduction of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) from Argentina. Last week, an identical piece of legislation was introduced in the Senate.

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.

“We especially want to thank Representative Herseth Sandlin and Representative Cubin for taking the lead in the House on this important issue,” said R-CALF USA President/Region VI Director Max Thornsberry, a Missouri veterinarian who also chairs the group’s animal health committee. “Argentina has detected FMD as recently as 2006, but USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) was intent on reopening our border to these suspect products. Perhaps, now, USDA will listen to these members of Congress who are listening to their constituents. At least the legislative branch of our government plainly recognizes the obvious risk these imports would pose.”

On March 6, 2007, R-CALF USA filed comprehensive comments in opposition to USDA’s Jan. 5, 2007, proposed rule to change the FMD status of the Patagonia South Region of Argentina. R-CALF USA’s member-established policy states that the organization “opposes the weakening of any animal health or food safety standard concerning the importation of cattle or beef into the United States.”

“There is no justification for relaxing import restrictions that protect the United States against the introduction of FMD,” said 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.”