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Details finalized on U.S.-China beef agreements

Written by Saige Albert

On June 12, the U.S. and China announced details were finalized to export U.S. beef to China.

A press release from USDA noted, “The U.S. Department of Agriculture has reached agreement with Chinese officials on final details of a protocol to allow the U.S. to begin beef exports to China.”

Greg Hanes of the U.S. Meat Export Federation commented, “The quality of Wyoming producers beef creates makes my job easier. The beef is great quality.”

“I can probably guarantee that at least one cut from each Wyoming animal is going to an international market,” Hanes added. “Wyoming cattle producers are not just producing for Wyoming or the U.S. It’s an international market.”

Praise for the agreement

With an agreement finally reached in the U.S.-China deal, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said, “Today is a great day for the United States and, in particular, for our cattle producers, who will be regaining access to an enormous market with an ever-expanding middle class.”

Perdue called the agreement an example of President’s Trump commitment to America’s agriculture families, bringing momentum, optimism and results that haven’t been seen for many years.

“I have no doubt that as soon as the Chinese people get a taste of American beef they’ll want more of it,” Perdue emphasized.

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Craig Uden added, “In recent years, China has become one of the largest import markets for beef, and these terms are a reflection of China’s trust in the safety and quality of U.S. beef. We hope that by getting our foot in the door, we can develop a long lasting and mutually beneficial relationship with China.”

House Agriculture Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-Texas) called the deal “an area of great opportunity for the U.S. beef industry.”

Stipulations

However, with the opening of borders comes a series of standards that will be important for beef producers to comply with in the 2017 marketing year.

“China is allowing both chilled and frozen beef for cattle 30 months and under,” Hanes explained. “They will allow variety meats, hearts, livers, kidneys, tendons and omasum.”

One big requirement is bookend traceability, which means the place of birth and the slaughter location must be known.

“As long as we can provide that, we are eligible for beef export to China,” Hanes said.

John Henn, Wyoming Business Council agri-business development manager who oversees the Wyoming verified program, noted that verification and traceability are very important for trading with China, indicating that back-verification will not be allowed for exports to China.

“Japan allowed cattle feeders to tag calves that came from a certain ranch in the feedlot,” Henn explained. “That will not be allowed with China. Calves have to be source-verified on the ranch of origin.”

As an option for verification, Henn noted the Wyoming verified program provides an opportunity for source verification at minimal cost, but many program options are available.

In addition, China approved USDA-inspected plants for beef export eligibility.

Hormones

Hormones and beta agonists are also important for the Chinese agreement. No synthetic or non-naturally occurring hormones will be allowed.

“If they find traces of beta agonists, China will deny the entire load of beef,” Hanes said.

Specifically, the Food Safety Inspection Service noted, “Eligible beef products to China should not contain growth promotants, feed additives and other chemical compounds, including ractopamine, prohibited by China’s law and regulation. Beef shipments detected with prohibited substances or compounds at the port of entry will be rejected, returned to the U.S. or destroyed.”

If discrepancies exist between U.S. and Chinese standards, Chinese standards must be met.

Marketing decisions

For Wyoming producers, Henn emphasized that opportunities are abundant, and Hanes speculated that beef shortages may be seen with the opening of the new market, so both encouraged producers to stay on top of their marketing options as summer progresses.

“It’s important that producers make their marketing decisions now and get cattle verified on the ranch if they want to sell to China,” Henn said. “Ranches that want to participate and anticipate higher the demand that might come from source verification need to think about it now.”

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..