After China visit, Daines expects U.S. beef ban to end soon


By Tom Lutey, Billings Gazette (MT)

Apr 17, 2017


Within a few months, U.S. beef could be in China supermarkets for the first time in 13 years, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., said Monday.


Daines traveled to China during the congressional Easter break to talk beef with China Premier Li Keqiang. China last fall agreed to lift its 13-year-old U.S. beef ban, which was prompted by the 2003 discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, better known as "mad cow disease," in a Washington dairy cow.


Daines said the two nations are close to normalizing beef trade, which is significant to Montana ranchers because China is the second largest beef-consuming nation in the world. China imported 825,000 tons of beef in 2016.


“They are committed to moving forward as part of this 100-day plan that was agreed to by President Xi Jinping and President Trump at Mar-a-Lago,” Daines said. The two presidents met at Trump’s West Palm Beach, Florida, retreat April 6.


Premier Li Keqiang told Daines that China has terms drafted, but is waiting for the United States to seat its new agriculture secretary before presenting plans.


Daines said nominated Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue should near confirmation April 24. The Montana senator presented Li Keqiang with steaks from Miles City rancher Fred Wacker. The steaks flew with Daines, who put them on ice in a small red cooler.


"I have been putting the the heat on him and all the other guys back there for a long time to get China open," Wacker said of Daines.


Wacker, who raises antibiotic-free, implant-free Angus cattle for Whole Foods, learned of Daines' trip during a Washington D.C. trip with the Montana Stockgrowers Association.


"It's a tremendous market. It would do so much for the beef industry and it would do so much for Montana," he told The Gazette...