A topic of intense scrutiny and debate at the recent Cattle Producer’s Forum, held September 10th in Billings, Montana, was the issue of trade and the growing number of agreements impacting U.S. beef exports and competing imports.
Following the Forum, two significant announcements have been made, both with pending impacts to the U.S. cattle producer. Fresh chilled beef shipments to the U.S. from Brazil have been approved and China has lifted the ban on select U.S. and Canadian beef imports.
As a result of the now-approved access of Brazilian beef to the U.S., it was announced that the first shipments of fresh beef to the U.S. from Brazil will begin this month. JBS, Marfrig and Minerva now have the authority to ship fresh beef to the U.S., opening the large Brazilian export supplies to the U.S domestic market. However, Brazil’s access will be limited to up to 64,805 metric tons, a total amount shared with all countries without a free trade agreement with the U.S., per Tariff Rate Quota stipulations.
Newly elected USCA President Kenny Graner commented on the news, “USCA remains concerned regarding the safety and consistency of the fresh beef product exported from Brazil. Producers and consumers must remain vigilant and aware of the meat they are purchasing given the lack of defined labeling laws.”
Competing with the news of Brazilian exports opening to the U.S., was an announcement that following a 13-year ban, China will lift its ban on U.S. beef imports. China’s Ministry of Agriculture and General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, stated the need to resume imports of U.S. beef following the BSE scare in 2003.
Graner commented, “Today’s announcement is an important first step towards once again securing this important market for U.S. beef. There will be a lengthy process now in which the terms of this access will be negotiated. USCA is confident that the Administration and Secretary Vilsack will secure the most favorable export requirements possible for U.S. beef access into the Chinese market.”
“China’s growing population continues to demand high quality beef. The U.S. cattle industry produces the safest and best product in the world, and we are eager to increase global market access for U.S. beef.”
Graner concluded, “Trade remains an important issue for all U.S. cattle producers. We need trade laws and remedies that are timely and sensitive to the perishable and cyclical nature of our industry. Last year’s shift in trade flows of beef, resulted in our trade deficit on beef increasing by nearly 750 million pounds. Unfortunately, this was a great example of what can happen to our domestic market without proper trade risk protection measures.”
“U.S. producers must be able to differentiate U.S. beef if we are to compete in the marketplace and maintain the integrity of our product. Consumers continue to ask 'where their food comes from'.”