Beef industry leaders are asking President Trump to help get American beef back into China. Trump is scheduled to meet today with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Kent Bacus, spokesman for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, says they’re urging Trump to raise the issue of U.S. beef access during that meeting.
“We need someone who is a master negotiator, someone who can close the deal,” Bacus says. “President Trump has really sold himself as that person and we think this is a great opportunity to show what he’s worth.”
The beef industry is worth more than $12-billion a year to Nebraska’s economy. It’s the state’s single largest industry.
China banned U.S. beef in 2003 after the BSE or “mad cow” scare. The ban was finally lifted last fall, but China still has not resumed purchases from the U.S.
“We’re one of the leading exporters in the world and yet we don’t have access to the Chinese market, even though some of our competitors, who do not have the same safety designations as ours, do have access to that market,” Bacus says. “So, we’re trying to move past all of these obstructions and these obstacles and get access into one of the biggest markets in the world.”
The issue resurfaced last month when China briefly halted imports of Brazilian beef over a meatpacking scandal in that country, but the U.S. was never mentioned in news reports as a viable, alternative source of beef for the Chinese.
A letter to Trump was signed by leaders of NCBA, the U.S. Meat Export Federation and the North American Meat Institute.
There are 20,000 beef cow operations in Nebraska with nearly two-million head of beef cows statewide. It ranks the state second in the country behind Texas. Nebraska has another 4,600 cattle feeding operations, with more than five-million cattle fed and marketed per year.
Reporting by Ken Anderson, Brownfield Ag News