13 years ago, China issue a ban on US beef. This was largely on the heels of a mad cow disease scare, resulting in a major shrinking of the market, of course. However, this week, China announced its plan to lift this ban, making US beef available in the major economy.
This, of course, is a major boon to the US beef industry which has suffered “huge losses” over the last 12 to 14 months, as described by Bufffalo, NY rancher Jim Peterson. He says, “There are a lot of ag producers in both cattle production and farming who are looking for a light at the end of the tunnel. Calves are selling for almost half or less than half of what they were selling for last year.”
For example, calves that are currently selling for between $700 and $800 would have sold for twice that, just last fall.
While the middle class in America is feeling the pinch, the same population in China is blossoming. And with that, China’s middle class craves more beef, apparently—more protein for highly mobile—and motivated–workers. The number make this incredibly clear: last year China only imported about $2.5 billion worth of beef. This is a number just short of all US beef sales in 2003. However, the last year that China permitted US beef, according to the US Department of Agriculture, the country imported $10 billion overall.
As such, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association international director of trade and market access, Kent Bacus, comments, “This product is going to fly off the shelves. I think we’re going to have a great opportunity there. There’s still a lot of technical details that have to be ironed out. We don’t have beef on China’s shelves yet. When we do, we’ll still have to promote the product and gain their trust.”
In addition, US Ambassador to China Max Baucus advises: “You’ve got to be patient. You’ve got to be positive. You’ve got to be be persistent over here. Just stick with it, stick with it.” And the former U.S. senator from Montana goes on to say, “It’s hard to know when you’re going to succeed because this country is so opaque. They just don’t let you know when they are going to make a decision or not make a decision.”