New U.S. Agriculture Secretary talks better beef trade

by Editor
Monday, February 18, 2008

Edward Schafer, new U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, told beef producers that their international trade opportunities should improve this year.

In his speech at the U.S. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association annual convention in Reno, Nevada, Schafer recognised the need to further improve trade to increase income for beef producers and recapture monies lost after the 2003 BSE outbreak.

He said that exports for 2007 are expected to be up $2.6 billion, and that would be up more than 30%.

He noted U.S. beef trade had reopened with Indonesia, the Philippines, Barbados and Russia this past year. Schafer also said progress is being made toward agreement on science-based guidelines with Taiwan, South Korea and Japan, which should reopen those markets, too.

Economic analysts from Cattle-Fax say these markets for U.S. beef should be worth $90 per head and more.

Schafer noted also that the U.S. classification by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), will continue to be an important trade tool, despite some voices calling for the industry to drop out of the organisation.

He said he believes the change of administration in South Korea will make a significant difference in reopening that important export market for U.S. beef.

Schafer also mentioned free trade has dramatically increased trade with Mexico and Canada, and further negotiations through the Doha round of trade talks will open markets further and increase income for American farmers and ranchers.