Friday, October 14, 2016

Texas cattlemen reserve excitement as China opens to U.S. beef market

Saginaw rancher Pete Bonds remembers the Holstein that came down with mad cow disease in December 2003 unaffectionately as the “cow who stole Christmas.” Within hours of the Christmas Eve finding, Japan, which accounted for a third of U.S. beef exports, had banned the product for fear of the spread of the deadly brain-wasting disease. From there, the markets dropped like dominoes: Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and China shut their doors. U.S. beef exports fell from $3.2 billion in 2003 to $631 million in 2004. Thirteen years later, mad cow disease long since has been ruled out as a threat and those markets largely have reopened. The World Trade Organization in 2007 dubbed the U.S. a “controlled risk,” meaning beef from the country could be safely traded. U.S. beef producers in 2015 did a brisk $5.8 billion in trade to 112 different countries. But aside from accepting some byproducts like beef tallow, China, the world’s fastest-growing beef market, has been a holdout, repeatedly dashing producers’ hopes with contentions it still wasn’t convinced U.S. beef was safe. The recent news that China at long last would — and for real, this time — accept U.S. beef is a potential game changer for ranchers struggling with low prices spurred by a post-drought oversupply of cattle...more

No comments: