Trade agreement is good for beef producers

Montana cattle may well show up on Chinese dinner tables thanks to an historic agreement between the United States and China. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has reached a final agreement with Chinese officials on final details of a protocol to allow the U.S. to begin the beef exports to China. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has announced the posting of technical documents related to the beginning of shipments.

This is welcome news to Montana ranchers, notes Montana Farm Bureau national affairs director Nicole Rolf. “After an almost 14-year hiatus, our members are anxious to start selling our high-quality beef back into China. Montana ranchers know the beef we produce is nutritious and wholesome. We look forward to sharing it with consumers in China. Expanding our export markets is essential to help cattle prices recover.”

There are specified requirements for exports to China including beef products must be derived from cattle that were born, raised, and slaughtered in the U.S.; cattle that were imported from Canada or Mexico and subsequently raised and slaughtered in the U.S. or cattle that were imported from Canada or Mexico for direct slaughter. Cattle must be traceable, and beef along with beef products must be derived from cattle less than 30 months of age. Only eligible products will be issued a UDSA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) Export Certificate.

 “The potential for U.S. ranchers is great,” says Dave Salmonsen, senior director of congressional relations, American Farm Bureau Federation. “If the protocols go through, it will be a great market. China is currently importing more than $2.5 billion in beef, and that number is steadily increasing. The idea of the agreement was to be shipping beef by the end of the 100-day plank which is July 16. There are still some conditions that need to be met and how quickly the industry can work those out remains to be seen. This is still a very positive development and we look forward to seeing U.S. beef on its way to China soon.”

Rolf noted U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., is to be commended for his role in moving along this trade agreement. “We cannot thank Sen. Daines enough for the work he has done to make this happen and we thank Sen. Jon Tester for his continued support on this matter.”