Cattle industry applauds China beef agreement

A Cargill spokeswoman called the deal a “significant development.”

President Donald Trump has literally beefed up his image with US cattle producers following the recent agreement that says China will accept US exports of the staple protein for the first time in 13 years.

“It’s impossible to overstate how beneficial this will be for America’s cattle producers, and the Trump administration deserves a lot of credit for getting this achieved,” National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president Craig Uden said in a statement.

In an email to Agri Investor, a spokeswoman with Cargill, which is among the top US beef producers, called the deal a “significant development.”

“Cargill applauds the leadership of China’s President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump in strengthening bilateral trade relations that mutually benefit consumers and agriculture in both nations,” she wrote.

The deal, part of the initial commitments hashed out as part of multi-industry 100-day action plan between Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping and their respective aides, states that China will allow US beef imports no later than July 16, 2017, while the US will publish a proposed rule by that same date allowing imports of cooked Chinese poultry into the US.

“With an existing, vertically integrated, chicken business in China that includes a USDA-approved processing facility, as well as operating beef processing facilities in the US that currently serve other Asian markets, Cargill looks forward to the opportunities being created through the efforts of Presidents Xi and Trump,” the Cargill spokeswoman wrote.

The deal opens up China’s 1.4 billion consumers to US beef, while Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, noted in a statement that the deal opens up “at least a $2.5 billion market” for US beef.

It’s clearly a boon for the cattle industry, but it’s too early to tell if the measure marks a significant agri policy shift for Trump more broadly.

The US President previously followed through on his campaign promise to kill the TPP deal despite pleas from the agri community, while the results of upcoming NAFTA renegotiations remain to be seen despite a separate letter from agri groups defending that trade deal.

“I feel like the Trump administration is probably pretty desperate to prove that they are ‘on the farmer’s side’ after all of the ado [about TPP and NAFTA],” an agriculture investment consultant told Agri Investor.

“Nevertheless, this strikes me as a big win and assuming the Chinese can uphold their end of the bargain in terms of food safety it could create some important opportunities for US producers.”

Uden, the National Cattlemen’s president, added: “I look forward to the day when we can serve President Trump and President Xi a dry-aged American-made New York strip in Beijing.”