Getting U.S. beef into China may be a lucrative business but it does not come without major effort. Monday, China and the USDA released the devilish details of how U.S. growers, packers and exporters can ship beef that will be accepted by Chinese authorities. It is of interest to note traceability from the farm, that is required for cattle and all must be under 30 months of age.
“We’ve been hearing for some time that China would re-open to US exports, but until recently, the details were unclear,” says Deppe. “The requirements released by the US Department of Agriculture on Monday give the industry a much better understanding of the nature of the beef products that will be accepted,” Iowa Cattlemen CEO, Matt Deppe said.
USDA has posted the requirements for exporting U.S. beef to China, opening a key market that’s been closed to U.S. beef for more than 13 years. As Thad Lively, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) senior vice president for trade access explains, the requirements for China go beyond those imposed by most international destinations for U.S. beef, and will include testing for residues from synthetic hormones and beta agonists. He notes that this will require a period of adjustment for the U.S. beef industry and will likely limit export volumes in the near term.
“This is the day we’ve waited for a long time. Today the USDA announced the requirements for exporting beef to China so now it is clearer exactly what we are going to have to do to export to this market. In some respects, the requirements go beyond what we must do to have access to a lot of markets around the world and as a consequence, and I think it’s likely that in the beginning our exports are going to start out pretty slow. We expect that business and that volume to build up over time.”
Despite these limiting factors, however, Lively says there is still much to like in the U.S.-China agreement. He praises U.S. government officials for negotiating broader access terms in China than any other beef-exporting country. The inclusion of chilled (never frozen) beef is especially important, because chilled U.S. beef will appeal greatly to buyers in China’s high-end foodservice and retail sectors.
“A number of areas of the agreement turned out better than any of us thought they would just a few months ago and that’s something we owe the U.S. Government and particularly USDA a big thank you for.” Lively said. The U.S. will have access to the Chinese market under better terms than any other beef exporting country. It is a “big win” for all of us Lively commented.
“We will have access for chilled Beef and this is going to be critically important because the customers we are looking at are going to be high end restaurant and retail markets and they are going to be looking for chilled beef.” And, of course, US beef is going to be positioned at the top of the market, highest quality beef available. To the extent we can ship chilled beef we can have the ability to have the freshest imported beef in the market.”
More details on the export requirements are posted in the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service Export Library and in the Export Verification Program administered by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.
Iowa Senator, Charles Grassley, also reacted to the news in his Tuesday morning news conference with agricultural reporters.