October 21, 2005

Brazil rancher demands foot-and-mouth answers

By Marcelo Teixeira

ELDORADO, Brazil (Reuters) - Manoel Simoes Junior, who is
watching health officials in Brazil slaughter his herd of 3,600
head of cattle after they tested positive for foot-and-mouth,
wants explanations.

Simoes told Reuters by phone he is not to blame for the
outbreak on his property, on which two local police officers
shot dead the first lot of 300 of his herd earlier this week.

"What the press needs to ask is how this happened. I have
employees trained by government health officials, who have
administered vaccination regularly (for foot-and-mouth). And I
never brought cattle in from outside," Simoes said.

Simoes runs the Jangada ranch for his father-in-law Renato
Turquino in Eldorado, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil's No.1 cattle
ranching state. Jangada was one of the ranches under quarantine
after the disease showed up in the region on October 10.

"There is still no sign from the government about
compensation and nobody has yet explained to me how the disease
appeared," Simoes said. "It is savage what is being done to

At least 5,100 head of cattle in the region will be
slaughtered in and around the region of Eldorado, if new cases
of the virus don't surface anew outside the quarantine area.

One of the main theories of health officials is that
vaccines used in the area were poorly handled or poorly
administered to the herds, thus making them less effective or
useless against the disease.

Ranchers have also said that the disease originated from
across the nearby border in Paraguay, as all of Brazil's herd
in the state is under vaccination.

The Paraguayan government denies the accusations.

Simoes has spent the last 40 years building up the genetic
stock of the ranch's herd of largely Nelore cattle, which have
thin, flappy white hides and a large hump and are descended
from Indian lines of cattle such as the Zebu.

The Nelore thrive in the hot savannas of Brazil's
center-west, unlike the furrier, squatter Angus type cattle
that are raised in Argentina or the United States.

But Simoes' work of four decades is now about to be totally
erased in the coming days.

"I have worked in ranching my entire life. It's logical
that I want to continue. This is what I know how to do," Simoes

Agents for the agriculture ministry continue to investigate
the source of the virus in the region. Dozens of blood, fluid
and tissue samples have been sent to laboratories from animals
in the region and new cases could turn up in the coming days.