Beef to China

Written by Dennis Sun

A couple weeks ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping met President Trump at Trump’s Florida estate in Palm Beach. As imagined, a number of topics were discussed. Of course, the top topic was North Korea, but somewhere in the talks, getting China to lift the trade barriers and allow American beef in the country was discussed. As it turns out, an agreement was made to start the process to allow American beef into Chinese markets.

It would have interesting to be the fly on the wall to listen in on those converstions. I wonder just how long they discussed beef? Was it a long discussion with some “horse trading,” or did President Trump bring it up, and the Chinese President just wave his hand and say, “Sure, why not?” Remember, this is the third time in the 13-year ban that China has said yes, but regulatory barriers have stopped any real beef trade with China. Maybe the third time is really the charm.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and other ag organizations have worked tirelessly for years on beef trade issues with Congress and other government agencies. When news of the meeting between the presidents was out, 39 Senators sent a letter to President Trump about the trade issue, and thank God, our president brought it up. Good for him.

Beef trade will not start in the near future, as over the next three months, the two countries will hold talks on the process and the technical barriers, with traceability being at the top. I wonder how many animals in China have ever had an ear tag or brand on them. Have they have ever had a serious disease outbreak in their animals, and do they just keep quiet about it?

China is a huge market with a population of 1.3 billion consumers. China is the second largest importer of beef in the world and has one-fifth of the world’s population. It has been calculated that the Greater China region, which includes China, Hong Kong and Vietnam, has a $7 billion beef market.

If you have been to Yellowstone or other national parks lately and seen all the Chinese tourists touring America, sometime during their trip they must have had a good, ol' American T-bone steak. Hopefully they liked it. When they get home, I’m sure they wish they could get another one instead of some Australian canner-cow hunk of meat. The next time you are held up by a busload of Chinese tourists, think about the fact that we’re introducing them to American steaks during their tour. Like the South Koreans and other Asian consumers, I bet they like other parts of the cow, too.

Trade bans and barriers started when we discovered the first BSE-positive cow, and 13 years later, we’re still trying to get American beef into China. We hope the Chinese consumer wants our beef as bad as our ranchers want them to have it. We’ve got our foot in China’s door. Let’s all hope they let American beef follow.

From all of us at the Roundup to all of our readers, have a safe and blessed Easter. That’s the big story this week.

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