Russia, Brazil’s Largest Beef Importer, Extends Ban to 9 States

    Russia has banned beef imports from nine Brazilian states because of growing concerns about foot-and-mouth disease, the Brazilian government said today.

    Brazil is the world’s No. 1 beef export and Russia is its second-largest beef market, after the European Union.

    The Brazilian Agriculture Ministry said it received a note from Russia’s veterinary agency in Moscow stating it would extend the ban currently on beef and pork from Mato Grosso do Sul state to include that coming from Mato Grosso, Goiás, São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, effective immediately.

    The Brazilian government has confirmed two states with foot-and-mouth disease in their herds. The outbreak in Mato Grosso do Sul began on Oct. 10 and spread to 29 ranches over the course of seven weeks. Neighboring Paraná state was confirmed to have cattle with the virus on Wednesday, December 7. The cattle were purchased from a ranch in Mato Grosso do Sul.

    Unlike mad cow disease, foot-and-mouth disease is rarely spread to humans but it is highly contagious in animals.

    The expanded import ban could possibly wipe out Brazilian beef exports to Russia if it lasts any time past March 2006. Russia does not import beef from December to March because ports there are frozen.

    Nelmon Oliveira da Costa, Brazil’s deputy secretary of agricultural defense, said he doubted Russia would keep the ban in effect for all of 2006.

    "I think we’ll absolutely have the ban removed by March," Costa said.

    Costa said Russian agriculture officials requested a meeting with their Brazilian counterparts next week to discuss the latest case of foot-and-mouth disease in Paraná.

    This article appeared originally in Pravda – www.pravda.ru.

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