It has been a busy but good week for cattle producers, with significant accomplishments on two landmark trade deals in Washington. Here’s a recap on some of the biggest items we’ve been watching and working on from our Austin office since Monday.
On Wednesday, President Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping signed the highly anticipated phase one trade deal between the two countries. Details were sparse until after the agreement was signed, but the U.S. Trade Representative released more information, and we now know the deal will be very beneficial for American beef producers.
China only recently began to allow U.S. beef back into the country after a 13-year hiatus. Still, U.S. beef exports to China have continued to lag behind other Asia-Pacific trading partners, in large part because of significant non-tariff barriers. Wednesday’s deal will eliminate a number of those barriers and is expected to result in more American beef sold to the Chinese.
According to USDA and the USTR, the deal will:
- Remove age restrictions for U.S. beef and beef products.
- Expand the allowable scope of U.S. beef and processed beef products.
- Recognize the existing U.S. beef traceability system.
- Allow internationally-accepted maximum residue levels for three widely-used veterinary drugs.
- Establish a protocol for the export of U.S. live cattle and breeding stock to China.
- Eliminate pre-certification of U.S. beef products.
Demand built through international exports already adds approximately $300 to the value of each head of cattle. Increased exports to China will likely help that number grow.
In other trade news, the U.S. Senate, Thursday, overwhelmingly passed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to replace NAFTA. The President is expected to sign the agreement next week. Mexico has already ratified it, and it is widely expected that Canada will follow suit quickly now that the U.S. is officially on board.
The new agreement will preserve duty-free access for American beef going to those two countries. Since NAFTA was implemented, U.S. beef exports to Canada and Mexico have increased by 750%, reaching approximately $2 billion per year.
Kaleb McLaurin, the association’s executive director of government and public affairs, has been on the road this week talking policy and politics.
Friday evening, he will be in Bay City at the Gulf Coast Regional Cattlemen’s Workshop and Trade Show, put on by the Matagorda County Cattlemen’s Association. We hope to see y’all there! Earlier Friday, he met with Congressman Kevin Brady, State Senator Robert Nichols and Rep. Trent Ashby to discuss some of the pressing issues in their districts.
Finally, it has been rumored that President Trump may announce a revised Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule during his speech at the American Farm Bureau Convention. The event starts in Austin today, and the President’s remarks will be on Sunday. We will keep you posted as that story develops.
Until next time,
Jeremy Fuchs is Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association’s director of public affairs.