WASHINGTON, D.C., March 24, 2004 -- CropChoice news -- Reuters, 03/23/04:
The United States should not open its borders
to Brazilian soybeans and soymeal until sufficient safeguards
are in place to prevent introduction of the devastating
soybean rust disease, said Senate Finance Committee
chairman Chuck Grassley on Tuesday.
In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, the
Iowa Republican expressed concern that Brazilian shipments
may inadvertently spread the fungus to the United States
when in transit.
"Contamination through transportation must be
addressed in an open and transparent fashion before
we import Brazilian soybeans or soybean meal,"
U.S. hog and poultry producers have announced plans
to import 190,000 tons of Brazilian soymeal beginning
Soybean rust has cost farmers in Brazil, the world's
No. 2 soybean producer, more than $1 billion.
Soy rust is an airborne fungus that causes the leaves
of soy plants to fall prematurely and thus reduce yields.
If left unchecked, it can cause losses of 80 percent
The disease has never been found in the continental
United States. Hawaii was infected by it in 1994.
The American Soybean Association earlier this month
repeated its call for a temporary ban on South American
soybean imports due to rust concerns.
Last month, a USDA study concluded that the wind-borne
fungus would eventually spread to the United States,
but soy imports did not pose a significant threat.
The USDA was expected to issue new soy-import regulations
soon to try to slow its spread.