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Good News for Iowa Beef
July 17, 2017

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Q: What's the update regarding China's ban on American beef?

A: The door to the world's most-populated country and second-largest economy re-opened this summer to U.S. beef exports, ending a 14-year ban. That's good news for America's cattle producers (and the farmers who grow their feed grain) who have been shut out of China's $11 trillion economy, representing nearly 15 percent of the world economy.

The USDA says China, population nearly 1.4 billion people, is the world's fastest growing beef market, representing a major growth opportunity for American agriculture. China's beef imports rose to $2.5 billion in 2016 and is on pace to jump 17 percent to 950,000 metric tons in 2017.

To qualify for export to China, the new trade agreement requires U.S. cattle producers to track the birthplace of its livestock and beef must come from cattle younger than 30 months of age.

So far, at least one Iowa beef processor has received certification from the USDA to ship to China. That facility, located in Tama, employs more than 800 workers and purchases its cattle from more than 1,000 local farm families.

From my committee assignments on the Senate agriculture and finance committees, I have worked to lift the restrictions set in place following concerns of mad cow disease in 2003.

Rigorous negotiations took place recently following a meeting between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The new trade deal spells out compliance for animal health standards on the farm and food safety protocols in the processing facility to end the beef ban.

At long last, families in China will be able to sink their teeth into high-quality USDA prime beef.

Restoring direct access to the Chinese market will expand the market for U.S. beef as the growing middle class population in China looks to add wholesome, nutritious protein to their diets.

Iowa's nearly 20,000 beef cattle farms stand to prosper from the growing demand for high-quality beef in China and around the world. And that will prime the pump for even more economic growth and job creation here in Iowa.

In 2015, Iowa's cattle industry contributed $6.9 billion in business activity to the state's economy. That accounts for 28,000 jobs directly and indirectly related to Iowa's cattle industry.

Iowa ranks fourth in the nation for cattle and ninth for number of beef cows.

I will continue to advocate and work with this administration to open up markets for American ag exports around the world.

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