In a controversial move, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering reinstating an inspection program that sends federal veterinarians into Mexico to inspect cattle that may cross the border.
The inspection program was a routine part of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s mandate. The APHIS works with other federal agencies to protect American plants and animals from invasive pests and diseases. In early 2010, however, the crossings into the Mexican state of Nuevo Laredo were halted due to drug-related instability. The rise of Mexican drug cartels and the increase in acts of violence against border residents convinced the USDA to halt the inspections out of fear for the safety of American officials.
The U.S. State Department warns American citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Nuevo Laredo.
However, several incidents of major food related illness outbreaks over the last two years have pressured some officials at the USDA to resume the inspections in order to guarantee the safety of the roughly 10,000-20,000 cattle imported each month from Mexico.
Federal veterinarian organizations are overwhelmingly opposed to this decision. According o a representative with the National Association of Federal Veterinarians, “USDA officials have told them in no uncertain terms that when they’re assigned there they better go or there are going be serious consequences to their careers, such as losing their jobs. How much risk is acceptable to place its civilian employees into for even the slight convenience of having the animals inspected in Mexico?”
USDA officials, however, are stressing that they are deeply concerned with the safety of their employees and have made no final decision regarding the inspection program.
To learn more about agricultural financing opportunities contact a Farm Plus Financial representative by calling 866-929-5585 or by visiting www.farmloans.com.
Follow us on: Twitter
Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer