After several countries closed their borders for Colombian beef, the country is seeking solutions to end sporadic outbreaks of foot and mouth disease before suffering even more economic losses.
According to Agricultural Minister Aurelio Iragorri, the most recent cases stem from the ongoing cattle smuggling from neighboring Venezuela, where the government has been unable to adequately vaccinate cattle and wipe out the disease for yours.
Colombia, together with neighboring Brazil, have both increased patrols along the border that has long been a paradise for smugglers trafficking all kinds of contraband, from cocaine to cows.
As part of the response to the sanitary crisis, Colombia will increase aerial surveillance of the border, and increase military presence at the 7 formal and another 63 informal border crossings.
All persons traveling from Venezuela and Colombia will have to cross a disinfectant mat and be submitted to other sanitary procedures. Vehicles will be sprayed entirely.
However, the almost 1,400-mile border has traditionally been porous and almost impossible to effectively control, mainly because large parts of the border cover scarcely inhabited jungle areas.
Because of this, the National Police will increase road blocks, primarily in border regions, but also in other parts of the country and will kill all cattle if the animals are found to originate for the neighboring country.
Additionally, the government has urged all cattle ranchers not to buy any cattle that could possibly come from Venezuela and warned them of the legal consequences if inspectors find Venezuelan cattle on Colombian ranches.
All companies found involved in the illegal meat industry could even have their assets seized and be liquidated.
Meat companies and ranchers were warned for increased checks by inspectors who will fine any company that’s found to be either holding or selling illegally imported meat.
Cattle trucks throughout the country will be submitted to compulsory spraying to prevent the virus being spread through transport vehicles.
Some 450,000 Colombian families live off livestock and are heavily affected by the decision of some countries to suspend meat imports from Colombia.
According to the minister, the company is still seeking ways to compensate the losses made in the sector.