Officials in Argentina have confirmed that at least one case offoot-and-mouth disease has been found there. Argentina is the world’s 4th largest beef-producing nation, and provides the beef that supplies many U.S. fast food franchises.

The United States has banned imports of beef from Argentina and has expanded the ban on imports of livestock and fresh meat to include all 15 members of the European Union, after a case of foot-and-mouth was found in France.

The European Union has expressed dismay over this blanket ban. “Thirteen EU states are disease-free. We have measures in place to keep it that way,” says spokeswoman Maeve O’Beirne.

But Iowa Senator Tom Harkin of the Senate Agricultural Committee, praised the USDA action. “Right now we just don’t know how far this disease has spread,” he said. “It is common sense to take protective measures.”

“We want to make sure we’re taking the appropriate steps to make sure it doesn’t cross the ocean by means of our ports or travelers,” said USDA spokesman Kevin Herglotz, adding that “if Foot-and-mouth disease were to enter the United States, the cost is in the billions.”

Travelers from Europe may be stopped at Customs when reentering the U.S. to have their shoes disinfected, especially if they have been on a farm.

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