China lifts ban on U.S. beef exports

Global Business

China lifts ban on U.S. beef exports

More than 13 years after the discovery of Mad Cow disease halted U.S. beef exports to China, that ban has been lifted. It’s a major element of a trade deal between the two countries that also features Chinese cooked chicken coming to the U.S.

CGTN’S Hendrick Sybrandy reports from Colorado.

China lifts ban on U.S. beef exports

More than 13 years after the discovery of Mad Cow disease halted U.S. beef exports to China, that ban has been lifted. It’s a major element of a trade deal between the two countries that also features Chinese cooked chicken coming to the U.S. CGTN'S Hendrick Sybrandy reports from Colorado.

It’s potentially good news for Chinese steak lovers and American ranchers like Kevin Ochsner of Kersey, Colorado.

“I bought my first cows when I was 19 years old,” said Ochsner, a third generation rancher who raises seed stock cattle that are bred by his customers.

At a time when the U.S. is not growing all that much, those customers are looking for new beef markets. Export markets currently make up 14 percent of all U.S. beef sales.

“Our growth opportunities in terms of our being able to grow our herds and pass our ranches down to our kids all depends on our ability to grow the demand for our product outside these borders,” Ochsner said.

That’s why U.S. cattle producers are celebrating the prospects of their beef flowing back into China.

“We are very excited about the long-term possibilities of this,” said Kendal Frazier, C.E.O. of the National Cattleman’s Beef Association. “We have worked with several administrations to try to get the market back open through the years and have not been able to get that done.”

Now, more than 13 years later, U.S. ranchers are about to connect with a huge and increasingly prosperous Chinese middle class.

“We’ve seen a rise in income equate to more animal protein all around the globe,” Ochsner said. “And the fact of the matter is that as people improve their incomes, they like to improve their diets.”

Asian consumers have long shown a preference for American grain-fed beef, often variety meats like tongue, stomach, short ribs and heart, along with traditional cuts.

“When cattle are put on a grain-fed diet for 100 days, they marble and they develop inter-muscular fat which has a taste to it that’s very unique,” said Frazier.

He expects high-end restaurants to feature the beef first. He says the immediate challenge will be setting up export channels into China and providing a consistent product at a competitive price. “We think the demand is there and we’ll be able to fulfill it.”

Ochsner thinks the lifting of the ban could push up cattle prices and eventually help ensure a fourth generation ranch on his property. “I see it as a great opportunity to reinvigorate the industry,” he said.

Beef exports are set to resume in the middle of July.


Fred Teng discusses the China-US beef agreement

CGTN’s Rachelle Akuffo spoke with Fred Teng of the America China Public Affairs Institute about the agreement to allow the U.S. to resume exports of beef to China.