Namibia has a big problem – foot and mouth disease infecting its cattle herds. Officials are confident they will push back the attack on their beef industry, and have enacted strict controls of movement of animals from one location to another within the country.
On September 1, a local newspaper reported that “the foot and mouth disease broke out in Ohangwena and Oshikoto regions in May and spread to other regions, such as Omusati, Oshana, Kunene and Kavango West.”
Animals can only be moved under strict regulations and permission from the department of veterinary services. This has resulted in farmers failing to sell meat to kapana (grilled beef) sellers at Oshakati, Ondangwa, Ongwediva, Omuthiya, Eenhana, Oshikango, Outapi, Okahao, Onesi, Tsandi and Ruacana.
The suspension of cattle movement has also severely affected traditional gatherings in the North such as weddings, funerals as well as other commemorations and celebrations where cattle, goats or sheep are usually slaughtered.
Many people are now forced to use either fish or chicken, sometimes against tradition.
On the other side of the world we have the USDA, supposed protector of all things agricultural, including beef. These victims of foot in the moth syndrome have a plan for Namibia beef – begin importing it into the USA, and help to put our cattlemen out of business or at least force them to reduce production. That decision was announced today to the cheers of foreign meat packers and investors in global trade.
This move began earlier this year, when revised international regulatory standards for managing foot and mouth disease were adopted at the World Organization for Animal Health world assembly in Paris. These new rules were designed to increase international trade (what else matters, but global profit-making) and remove former standards to fence off infected herds.
The Congress and USDA worked together against consumers to authorize imports of beef from Argentina and Brazil in June. USDA acknowledges neither country is considered free of the highly infectious foot-and-mouth disease.
Meanwhile, Congress is working to repeal our country of origin labeling law so all this imported beef will be undifferentiated in our U.S. market. Neither Brazil, Argentina or Namibia have been certified free of foot and moth disease (FMD). Cheap beef, bad beef, diseased beef – all will all look just like any other meat in your supermarket.