In this file:
· Halting Beef Imports Could Hurt Demand, Spark Unintended Consequences
· Trump floats halt to U.S. cattle imports as pandemic hurts ranchers
· President Donald Trump Addresses Beef Imports During NCBA White House Visit
Halting Beef Imports Could Hurt Demand, Spark Unintended Consequences
by Tyne Morgan, AgWeb
May 19, 2020
During a press conference intended to highlight details of the Coronavirus Food Aid Program (CFAP), the focus quickly fell on cattle. President Trump made a broad statement about cattle imports, asking USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to look into terminating bringing in cattle from other countries.
“I read yesterday where we take some cattle in from other countries because we have trade deals, I think you should look at terminating those deals,” Trump said, speaking to Perdue. “We have trade deals where we actually take in cattle, and we have a lot of cattle in this country, and I think you should look at the possibility of terminating those trade deals.”
The statement set off a slew of responses, some praising the President’s comment, while others criticized the possible decision. The criticism came rooted in concern over possible long-term consequences about demand.
“I'm not sure it's the best decision that we can make for the industry,” says Scott Brown, an economist with the University of Missouri. “I think we need those imports, when you talk about cattle or beef, we also like to talk about products we export back to Mexico and sometimes those are beef products. We wouldn't want to shut off cattle trade headed from Mexico to then turn around and have beef shut off from us going to Mexico.”
Brown says the U.S. is a net importer of beef on a quantity basis, but a net exporter of beef on a value basis. That’s because he says the U.S. exports higher quality beef products. The product typically imported is lean beef, which is used to blend and make lean ground beef.
“We have to talk about what kind of beef it is that we're talking about importing versus what we're exporting, which when you think about how the rest of 2020 unfolds, we need strong beef exports out of the United States to keep cattle prices higher than otherwise would be the case,” Brown says. “I wouldn’t want to get in a situation where we're not allowing any imports of beef, allowing other countries that we export to maybe put similar restrictions on our products. So there there's something about fair trade that's important here in how we participate in a global market that's important. We have a great chance to grow beef exports this year.”
Glynn Tonsor says it’s key to remember beef imports are needed in order to process things such as ground beef in the U.S. He says that was the case even before COVID-19.
“A lot of the stuff that we import in the beef complex, historically in normal pre-COVID times, is an input into another step, largely it's an input into our ground beef production system,” explains Tonsor. “I won't bore some specifics, but that's what it is. So, the direct import for direct consumption is fairly minimal. The direct import as an input into added value to domestically produced is the norm. That's really important to keep in mind as to why we import under normal times.”
Brett Crosby is a rancher, but also an economist with Custom Ag Solutions. He says with the current supply strain of beef at retail chains, imports were needed to help ease the supply and price pain. He points out the supply shortage at the retail level is due to the bottleneck of the beef supply chain at processing plants, which he says should be a relatively short-term problem.
“The last thing we want to do is as beef producers is to create a larger shortage or to make beef unaffordable for those who want it,” says Crosby...
Trump floats halt to U.S. cattle imports as pandemic hurts ranchers
'We have a lot of cattle in this country'
By Tom Polansek, Steve Holland, GFM Network News
via Canadian Cattlemen - May 19, 2020
Washington/Chicago | Reuters — U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday the United States should consider terminating trade deals under which it imports cattle as the federal government moves to help farmers hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak.
The United States imports cattle from Mexico and Canada to supplement domestic supplies at lower prices and to slaughter in American plants run by companies such as Tyson Foods and JBS USA. Bans could reignite trade disputes.
“I read yesterday where we take some cattle in from other countries. We have trade deals. I think you should look at terminating those deals,” Trump said. “We have a lot of cattle in this country.”
Trump made the comments at a White House event held to discuss $19 billion in coronavirus relief approved by Congress to help farmers (all figures US$). He did not mention specific trade deals or countries when talking about cattle.
“If a country’s been a great country and a great ally and a great friend, you know, we have to do that, but there are some countries that are sending us cattle, for many years, and I think we should look at terminating,” he said.
Asked later in the same event about the subject, he said, “I’m saying, why are we bringing in cattle, old trade deals that were made a long time ago, why are we bringing in cattle from other countries when we have so much ourselves?”
In “some cases,” he said, without naming specific countries, “they’ve been great allies, they’ve been working with us for many years, sometimes we needed the cattle, sometimes we don’t…. Generally speaking, unless this is a country that has been with us, we shouldn’t be taking their cattle.”
However, when asked separately about extending the ban on non-essential travel between the U.S. and Canada, Trump described Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as “a friend of ours” and added “we’re very close to Canada; we just signed the USMCA, which is a big deal.”
Live cattle imports to the U.S. come only from Mexico and Canada and are allowed under the terms of Trump’s newly negotiated U.S.-Mexico-Canada (CUSMA) trade pact, according to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
A ban could increase competition for U.S. beef exports if Mexico and Canada keep more cattle at home and process them, said Derrell Peel, livestock marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University.
“Obviously, if we just ban Mexican and Canadian cattle, they’re not going to take that kindly,” Peel said...
President Donald Trump Addresses Beef Imports During NCBA White House Visit
Oklahoma Farm Report
19 May 2020
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) CEO Colin Woodall issued the following statement in response to comments made by President Donald Trump’s about beef imports:
“Today’s comment by President Donald Trump demonstrates the complexity of the U.S. beef business. Live cattle imports to the United States only come from Canada and Mexico and will continue to do so under the terms of the President’s newly negotiated USMCA. America has not imported live cattle from other nations for several years. However, if President Trump is serious about reconsidering import decisions, NCBA and its members strongly request the White House to take another look at his decision to allow fresh beef imports from nations like Brazil, where there continue to be concerns with foot-and-mouth disease and USDA’s decision to reopen the American market to Brazilian beef.
“Beef trade is a complex business, and America’s cattle producers rely on safe and reliable international trading partners, both as a destination for the undervalued cuts we produce here, such as hearts, tongues, and livers, and for importation of lean trim for ground beef production to meet strong consumer demand. Approximately 12 percent of beef consumed in the U.S. is imported product, but that product must meet the U.S. standards for safety before it is allowed into our market...