WASHINGTON — Kelley Sullivan Georgiades, a fourth-generation rancher from Texas, testified Tuesday on the state of the cattle industry at a hearing of the Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee.
Georgiades praised cattle producers for providing Americans with a high-quality, safe and nutrient-dense protein. She also highlighted the importance of ranching to the economy, especially in Texas, where it is the leading contributor to the state’s agriculture economy with more than $12 billion in annual sales.
The bulk of her testimony, though, was focused on international trade.
“The most important thing this Congress can do for American ranchers is to approve the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA),” Georgiades testified. “Mexico and Canada, combined, buy $2 billion in U.S. beef products every single year. That’s nearly a quarter of all U.S. beef exports.”
In her testimony, Georgiades also warned that “failure to maintain free trade with Mexico and Canada would be devastating to cattle producers.”
In making her case for the importance of international trade, Georgiades noted that 96% of consumers live abroad. Demand from those foreign consumers increases the value of each animal sold in the U.S. by almost $300.
“That $300 per animal may already be the difference between a successful business and bankruptcy,” said Georgiades.
She concluded by thanking the committee for their work on the 2018 Farm Bill, and in her testimony reminded the members that there are many other issues that cattle producers and Congress must continue to work on together to ensure a strong future for American beef producers.
Georgiades, who ranches in Crockett and Navasota, Texas, testified on behalf of the 142-year-old Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. She owns and operates Santa Rosa Ranch, the largest registered breeder of Brangus and Ultrablack cattle in the United States.
Full testimony may be viewed at https://youtu.be/Z5NuaeP2aKE?t=4486