Billings, Mont. – R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard issued the following statement following the Financial Times report that President Donald Trump and China President Xi Jinping reached an agreement over the weekend to allow U.S. beef into China.
“While we welcome the news that China intends to reopen its market to U.S. beef, steps must be taken to ensure the benefits from this expanded market flow all the way back to the farmers and ranchers who comprise the U.S. live cattle supply chain, and are not captured by the multinational meatpackers who will actually export the beef.
“Because the dangerous foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is endemic in China, we need assurances from the Secretary of Agriculture that we are not entering a quid pro quo with China as we did with Brazil, with which we agreed to relax our FMD restrictions in return for renewed access to the Brazilian market.  Doing this also with China would expose our domestic cattle herd to an unacceptable risk.
“We further call on the Administration to close the loophole that allows multinational meatpackers to circumvent the U.S. live cattle supply chain by sourcing live cattle from Canada and Mexico and exporting the resulting beef as if it was a product of the United States.  If the rule of origin that allows this deception is not changed, then multination meatpackers can capture the benefits of any new market without sharing those benefits with U.S. cattle producers.  This is because the faulty rule of origin allows meatpackers to bypass the U.S. live cattle supply chain.
“Also, the Administration must limit the multinational meatpackers’ ability to exercise their unprecedented buying power to reduce competition in the domestic cattle market. If the meatpackers continue using their tremendous buying power to leverage down domestic cattle prices in the face of rising beef demand, then they will capture the beef profits that a competitive market should be allocating to upstream cattle producers, which is what the meatpackers did to cause the market collapse of 2015.”