Billings Gazette: China ends ban on U.S. beef

China has agreed to begin buying U.S. beef, a major break for Montana ranchers.

The announcement was made this week by China Premier Li Keqiang, who was speaking in New York. It wasn’t clear exactly when China would lift its 13-year-old U.S. beef ban, which stems from the 2003 discovery of mad cow disease in a Washington dairy animal.

China is the second-largest beef consumer in the world. 

U.S. Sen Steve Daines in May discussed ending China’s beef ban with with Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.

Daines was on a fact-finding trip to China at the time of the meeting, which another Montanan, U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus, played a role in. Baucus, who finished 36 years in the U.S. Senate in 2014, had for years encouraged China to accept U.S. beef.

Daines encouraged China to drop its ban. He also presented Dejiang with a letter from the Montana Stockgrowers Association.