U.S. beef producers will soon be able to export their products to Brazil for the first time since a 2003 scare over mad cow disease.
The U.S. Agriculture Department on Monday announced an agreement with Brazil's agriculture ministry that will restore U.S. access to the Brazilian beef market.
USDA officials said that the pact reflects the country's "negligible" risk of bovine spongiform encephalopathy and will also align Brazil's animal health regulations with international scientific standards.
"The Brazilian market offers excellent long-term potential for U.S. beef exporters," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. "The United States looks forward to providing Brazil's 200-million-plus consumers, and growing middle class, with high-quality American beef and beef products."
The agency said that 16 nations eliminated BSE-related restrictions on U.S. beef since the beginning of 2015. Both nations plan to immediately update their procedures to facilitate trade; U.S. companies will need to register their facilities with Brazilian authorities.
In addition, the USDA added that fresh beef from Brazil could be imported into the U.S. after the Food Safety and Inspection Service determined that Brazil's food safety system remained "equivalent" to U.S. standards.
The domestic beef industry lauded the new export agreement and said that imports from Brazil would be subject to a quota system and likely used "in ground and processed beef products."
“The Brazilian market offers great opportunity for U.S. companies and it is a market the industry has been working to regain access to for years,” Barry Carpenter, president and CEO of the North American Meat Institute, said in a statement.