Monday, February 06, 2017

Cattle Industry 'Very Concerned' by Trump Pledge on NAFTA

The largest U.S. cattle trade group said it’s “very concerned” about President Donald Trump’s pledge to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, which calls into question whether the industry will continue to enjoy its current level of market access in Mexico and Canada. A shakeup of NAFTA now would come as U.S. beef output is forecast to rise to a six-year high. More supplies mean the industry must continue to export or face a chronic oversupply. "Americans are not going to eat more beef at the same price,” said Kent Bacus, director of international trade and market access at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “If there’s a surplus, we have to move that product to other countries, and to sustain the expansion, we need to expand export markets.” U.S. beef exports rose 78 percent by volume since 1993, the year before NAFTA was enacted, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. As of 2015, Mexico was the largest foreign buyer of American beef and Canada was No. 4, according to figures compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation. NAFTA “has been a very lucrative opportunity because of strong demand in Mexico and Canada,” Bacus said in an interview on Wednesday at the group’s conference in Nashville. Those kinds of hungry export markets are badly needed. U.S. cattle inventory expanded in 2016 for a third straight year, the longest stretch in a decade. Frozen-beef stockpiles stood at a record at the end of last year...more

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