Leaders of two beef associations praised the passage of last week’s trade deal with China.

“All of the changes are significant. Any potential growth is very beneficial to Oklahoma,” said Michael Kelsey, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association.

Kelsey said that it may be a “slow process,” but he is “really excited about the changes.”

Kelsey explained that “the most heavily consumed meat in China is pork, but reports are that about 50% of China’s pork herd was wiped out by a pork disease called African swine fever.”

“Products that have little value here may have significant value in another culture. An example is beef tongue, which has little value here but is considered a delicacy in Japan. There is a similar opportunity in China because different cultures cook differently and eat different cuts of meat. We don’t know what those (cuts) are yet in China, but it is a great opportunity,” Kelsey said.

Robert McKnight Jr., president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA), issued the following statement about phase one of the trade deal with China:

“After a 14-year absence, U.S. beef was finally reintroduced to the Chinese market in 2017. Despite this, non-tariff barriers continued to hinder sales of American beef to China,” said McKnight. “The signing of today’s trade agreement is a significant step toward removing those restrictions and will allow U.S. beef producers to be much more competitive in the market.

“In 2018, China imported more than $4 billion in beef and beef products. If the U.S. were to come anywhere close to regaining the 70% market share we enjoyed before 2003, it would be a tremendous boon for American cattle producers,” McKnight concluded.

According to details released by the U.S. Trade Representative and USDA, the agreement will benefit U.S. beef producers by:

• Removing age restrictions for U.S. beef and beef products.

• Expanding the allowable scope of U.S. beef and processed beef products.

• Recognizing the existing U.S. beef traceability system.

• Allowing internationally-accepted maximum residue levels for three widely-used veterinary drugs.

• Establishing a protocol for the export of U.S. live cattle and breeding stock to China.

• Eliminating pre-certification of U.S. beef products.

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