After confirming a case of mad-cow disease, Brazil, which is the world’s largest beef exporter, stopped sending meat shipments to China. This move has raised concerns among farmers about a prolonged beef ban from their biggest trading partner.
The Brazilian agricultural ministry detected the disease at a small farm in the Amazonian state of Pará and has notified the World Organization for Animal Health. According to a 2015 bilateral agreement with China, Brazil must automatically halt beef exports to China upon detecting the disease.
In 2021, two cases of mad-cow disease caused Brazil to suspend beef exports to China for around three months, negatively impacting the country’s farmers. The agricultural ministry did not respond to requests for information on whether shipments to other countries, including the United States, would also be halted.
According to the state government of Pará, the case of mad-cow disease was detected at a small farm with approximately 160 cattle.
The symptoms indicate that it was an atypical case of the disease, which occurs spontaneously in older cows and is less dangerous than the classic type of infection caused by contaminated cattle feed.
Two years ago, the cases detected were also atypical, but China still maintained a months-long ban on Brazilian beef. However, the high beef prices in the U.S. could discourage the U.S. from imposing a ban, especially if the disease is confirmed to be atypical and contained to one state.
The prolonged Chinese ban on Brazilian beef could benefit Australian farmers, as it may prompt China to speed up negotiations to ease restrictions on beef imports from Australia.