BRASILIA/SAO PAULO (Reuters) - The ban on fresh Brazilian beef exports to the United States could be lifted in October, Brazil’s agriculture ministry said late on Tuesday.
The ban, implemented in June, would end after the United States finishes its current evaluation of documents sent in response to questions raised in a U.S. veterinary mission to Brazil earlier this year, according to a statement on the ministry’s website.
The United States accounts for 3 percent of Brazil’s fresh beef exports annually, but is seen as a leader in food safety standards with other countries often taking cues.
The predicted end to the ban comes after Washington informed Brasilia that it would allow thermoprocessed meat exports from five plants to resume, according to the ministry.
“We received information that processed beef was cleared,” Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi said, according to the statement. “We hope that very soon, we will also be able to clear fresh beef.”
Brazil exported $150.7 million worth of processed beef to the United States in the year through August, or 15,769 tonnes, according to data from the Abiec industry group.
Following a meeting with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue shortly after the ban came into effect, Maggi had predicted that the embargo could be lifted in 30 to 60 days, dates which have since passed.
The United States said previously there is no timeline for lifting the ban.
Brazil in March unveiled a probe accusing meatpackers of bribing inspectors, leading many countries to temporarily suspend Brazil meat imports. Most have since lifted the bans.
The United States stepped up inspections after the probe and canceled one establishment’s exporting license in connection with it, Abiec said, before instituting a broader ban. The United States accounted for 5.3 percent of Brazil’s total fresh and processed beef exports last year, Abiec data show.
Brazil has since pledged to tighten food safety inspections and hired more inspectors.
(This version of the story corrects to 15,769 tonnes of processed beef exports worth $150.7 million, not 30,031 tonnes worth $211.2 million as originally reported by Abiec in paragraph 6.)
Reporting by Jake Spring and Ana Mano, editing by G Crosse