January 10, 2018

Brazilian States are hoping to be declared free of "Foot and Mouth"

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

The cattle industry in Brazil has indicated the possibility that the World Animal Health Organization in their annual meeting in Paris in May, will declare that many states in Brazil are now free of foot and mouth disease. If that deceleration is forthcoming, representatives of the beef industry feel it will open up additional markets to the importation of Brazilian beef.

That would certainly come as welcome news to an industry that had faced major challenges during 2017. Earlier in 2017, the "weak meat" scandal revealed that some inspectors had been accepting bribes in order to certify expired meat products. The scandal was quickly contained and most of the countries that had temporary suspended Brazilian beef imports, are now once again importing Brazilian beef.

Later in the year, the huge beef processor JBS was caught up in the "car wash" financial scandal that continues to rock the Brazilian political scene. While JBS has not been implicated in irregularities as far as beef processing is concerned, the closure of many of its processing facilities has resulted in depressed cattle prices. Therefore, a clean bill of health from the World Animal Health Organization would be very welcome news for Brazilian cattle ranchers.

Out in the country side, the vaccination program aimed at eradicating the foot and mouth disease has been declared a huge success. The state of Mato Grosso is the largest beef producing state in Brazil with a cattle herd estimated at nearly 30 million head. The state has been free of the disease for over 22 years. In April of 2018, Brazil as a country will mark 11 years without a confirmed case of foot and mouth.

State animal health officials in Mato Grosso have indicated that they intend to terminate the mandatory twice yearly vaccination program for foot and mouth in 2021. The neighboring states of Acre and Rondonia are also expected to end their vaccination program as well.

The disease is still found in neighboring Bolivia, and since Mato Grosso has a land border with Bolivia, there may still be a limited and specialized vaccination program in the municipalities along the border. Animal health officials emphasize that close attention must be paid to the border areas and that any outbreak of the disease along the border must be acted upon quickly in order to prevent the disease from reestablishing Brazil.