The EU has joined a growing list of countries banning imports of beef from the northern part of Argentina, after an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

A meeting of the food chain committee in Brussels on Thursday (16 February) agreed to ban imports from eight departments within the Corrientes province, near the border with Brazil, where the disease has been found.

The outbreak was first notified to the International Office of Epizootics in Paris on 8 February.

About 70 cattle out of 3000 on a farm in San Luis del Palmar were confirmed with the disease.

The initial response was to impose a 20km control zone and vaccinate all susceptible species within that area.

The next stage is to slaughter all these animals.

Despite the swift control response, neighbouring countries Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile placed immediate trade bans.

Israel, Russia, Singapore and South Africa are also understood to have imposed restrictions.

NFU livestock chairman Richard Haddock said the EU’s regional ban was “too little, too late”.

“It is two weeks since the disease first took hold in Argentina.

It concerns me that it has taken the EU that long to act.

“I am also concerned about the cross border movement and lack of traceability in Argentina.

I have great sympathy for the farmers affected, but we need a full trade ban to give us any confidence.”

Argentina is one of the world’s top beef exporters, last year shipping almost 600,000t with a value of $1.4bn (800m).

Sales to the EU have been a particular growth area.

The government this week said the trade bans would cut exports by 20%.

But Mr Haddock said the Argentinean government was already imposing a 15% export tax on beef in an attempt to keep internal prices down.

Banning all beef exports should, therefore, not be too damaging.