In 2003, a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), aka Mad Cow Disease, led many foreign countries to move away from buying US beef. Since then, the USDA has led a huge campaign to restore faith in the US’s beef supply, according to a USDA press release. Recently, China’s Ministry of Agriculture announced the country was lifting their 13-year ban on US beef. The potential for the US cattle industry is significant.
Exporting US Beef
Quite a number of foreign importers of US beef chose to ban all beef from the states in the fallout of the BSE case. US markets took quite a hit, falling by $1.1 billion in 2004. However, all of the USDA’s efforts to reopen markets to American beef were successful. According to the USDA press release, shipments of US beef had regained the volumes they were at prior to the BSE case by 2011.
Markets for American beef have since expanded, reaching record values by 2014. New markets have been opened in “Colombia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Guatemala, Iraq, Lebanon, Macau, New Zealand, Peru, Philippines, Saint Lucia, Singapore, South Africa, Ukraine, Vietnam and Brazil,” according to the USDA press release.
China and US Beef
Even though the US has resumed and even surpassed the volume of beef exports that were the norm prior to 2003 and the BSE case, exporting beef to China represents a significant chance for beef producers in the US.
Pre-BSE beef exports totaled $3 billion, while 2015 beef exports totaled $5.8 billion. China was forecast in 2015 to become the second largest importer of beef in the world, according to the USDA press release. In 2015, China’s beef imports totaled $2.3 billion, and they are forecast to increase their demand even further. Once beef exports from the U.S. to China resume, US beef producers will benefit the most.
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