"America, Get Fired Up Over the Grill This Weekend”
WASHINGTON - Going into the Fourth of July holiday weekend, U.S. cattle producers are urging unjustified bans on U.S. beef exports to be lifted and are encouraging all Americans to take a patriotic stand in honor of U.S. beef.
“While many Americans will be proudly grilling up U.S. steaks and hamburgers over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, 22 countries maintain unwarranted and completely political bans on our exceptional beef products,” says NCBA Chief Economist Gregg Doud.
These countries include: Argentina, Australia, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Colombia, Ecuador, the French Pacific Islands, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Panama, Qatar, Romania, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
“U.S. ranchers encourage folks across the nation to get fired up over the grill on this holiday weekend,” says NCBA President and Missouri cattle producer Mike John. “The Fourth of July is basically the biggest weekend for beef consumption in the United States. Guess these countries just don’t know what they’re missing.”
In 2003, the United States exported approximately $7.5 billion worth of beef, beef products, cattle, ruminants and ruminant by-products to 95 countries (with European Union considered as one). After the December 23, 2003, BSE case, $4.8 billion worth of U.S. beef and beef product exports were banned from international markets.
“With China’s latest announcement today, 73 countries have either fully or partially opened to U.S. beef,” says Doud. “Of these, 60 accept bone-in products and 26 accept product from animals over thirty months (OTM) of age. There is absolutely no justifiable reason for our trading partners to ban U.S. bone-in and OTM beef products. All of this is purely political.”
China committed today to a partial border reopening for U.S. boneless beef from cattle less than 30 months of age. In 2003, boneless beef from cattle of all ages only made up about 30 percent of all U.S. beef products exported to China.
“U.S. cattle producers are pleased that the USDA’s negotiating efforts have resulted in China purportedly agreeing to reopen its market consistent with World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) guidelines,” says John. “But we were surprised and disappointed by China’s limited market opening announced today.”
Since June 1, 2004, the USDA’s Enhanced BSE Surveillance Program has tested 745,465 cattle and found only two confirmed cases, evidence that our safeguards are working and the prevalence of BSE in the United States is extremely low. Testing 268,500 animals can detect BSE at a rate of 1 in 10 million adult cattle, at a 99 percent confidence level.
“The bottom line remains the same: all U.S. beef is safe,” says John. “As America's beef producers, our number-one priority is providing the safest beef in the world. Our livelihood depends on it, and that’s why we have worked with the government and top scientists for more than 17 years to build, maintain and expand the BSE safeguards that guarantee the safety of our beef and the ultimate eradication of BSE in the United States.”
“Therefore, we urge the USDA to continue technical discussions with these stubborn export markets and re-establish fair trade based on established international guidelines, so that we can fully re-open the global market to all U.S. beef products as soon as possible.”