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Trade deal brings U.S. beef to China ‘one step closer’

Photo courtesy Mike Greenfield

Cattle industry officials say exports of U.S. beef to China are “one step closer” as a result of a trade deal announced by the Trump Administration.

Kent Bacus, director of international trade for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, says there are still some details to be worked out, including one more round of technical consultations between the U.S. and China.

“We’re hoping to see those details from the protocol very soon,” Bacus says. “There’s a goal of trying to restore beef access, or have beef arrive in China, by a deadline—at the latest—of July 16th, 2017.  That’s not too far away.”

One of the issues with the Chinese has been traceability. Bacus says NCBA wants traceability to remain voluntary.

“China is a very important market and we want to see it open. At the same time, we don’t want to put any over-burdensome restrictions or production requirements on our producers who may choose not to produce beef for China,” Bacus says.

NCBA president Craig Uden says he’s confident beef producers will adapt to give the Chinese the product they want. He says cattle feeders will adjust “if the value is there”.

Working with China would be a huge benefit to the U.S. beef industry, Uden says.

“This gives us an opportunity to grow our industry—and particularly with the amount of young people coming back in the industry, it stabilizes the market and gives us access.”

AUDIO: Bacus and Uden, comments from a Friday morning conference call with ag reporters

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