May 25, 2018

Brazil declared Free of Foot and Mouth Disease

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

Brazilian beef producers have had a tough time over the past twelve months. First, they had to contend with the tainted meat scandal in March of 2017 and countries temporarily banning Brazilian beef. Then they had to contend with the financial troubles involving JBS, the world's largest meat processor. And this week, they have had to contend with a nationwide truck driver strike that has closed meat processing plants all across Brazil. They were ready for some good news and they received it from the World Animal Health Organization (OIE).

At the opening of the 86th session of the World Animal Health Organization (OIE) meeting in Paris, Brazil's Minister of Agriculture, Blario Maggi, announced that Brazil has been declared free of foot and mouth disease. This deceleration is very important for beef producers in Brazil.

Brazilian cattle are vaccinated on a yearly basis against foot and mouth disease at a considerable cost for beef producers. If that vaccination requirement could be eliminated, it would not only save money for producers, it could help boost Brazil's meat exports.

In 2017, the Brazilian livestock sector had a Grosso Domestic Product R$ 175.7 billion reals. Brazilian meat exports increased 8.9% in 2017 to R$ 15.5 billion. With the eradication of the disease, Brazilian exports of beef and pork are expected to increase since Brazil only exports a small percentage of their beef and pork production.

Even though Brazil is now recognized as being free from foot and mouth without vaccination, vaccinations will still continue for the next few years just to be sure the disease has been eradicated. The state of Santa Catarina in southern Brazil is the state that has been free of the disease the longest period of time, since 2007 without vaccinations.

Brazil will now press forward in an attempt to eradicate the disease from all of South America, but it will not be easy or quick. The disease is still present in neighboring Bolivia and Paraguay, both of which share a dry border with Brazil. Brazilian officials have warned ranchers along the border that they must continue to be vigilant because the disease could still be reintroduced from infected cattle from either country.