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Brazil, Argentina Block Paraguayan Beef on Foot and Mouth

Brazil and Argentina suspended beef imports from landlocked Paraguay, the world’s seventh-largest shipper, after an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in cattle in the neighboring country.

Argentina declared a “state of alert” to prevent the disease from entering the country and won’t allow imports of Paraguayan beef or cattle, according to a resolution in today’s Official Gazette. Brazil also said yesterday it would temporarily suspend all imports of Paraguayan livestock or red meat. Both countries are transit points for Paraguayan exports.

Paraguay reported the outbreak on Sept. 18. Total exports from the country were expected to increase to 310,000 metric tons in 2011, from 290,000 tons in 2010, according to forecasts by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Beef is the country’s second-largest export, after soybeans.

JBS SA, the world’s largest beef producer, based in Sao Paulo, said Sept. 19 it suspended exports from its Paraguayan unit because of the outbreak, and Minerva SA, based in Barretos, Brazil, halted operations in Paraguay. Marfrig Alimentos SA, Latin America’s second-largest beef producer, said in a statement yesterday it doesn’t own beef plants in Paraguay.

Argentina is free of foot-and-mouth disease, while Brazil is considered free of the disease with vaccination, according to the World Organization for Animal Health, or OIE. Foot and mouth is one of the most contagious livestock illnesses and can kill young animals, according to the OIE. The virus affects cloven-hoofed animals including cattle, pigs and sheep.

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