Just twenty-five years ago, U.S. beef exports were so small that they had little effect on beef prices. Today we export ten percent of our beef, or about two point six billion pounds annually. A big part of that is exported to four countries, three of which we have trade agreements with that the current administration wants renegotiated. David Anderson is a Texas A&M Agrilife Extension economist.
“We have four big export markets, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, and Canada. And so if you think about those four countries, NAFTA’s two of those countries, Canada and Mexico. We have a trade agreement with South Korea also that’s opened up more of their market for our beef. And then, of course, Japan, is our biggest beef export market.”
Anderson says that the food market in the U.S. is a mature market, meaning that potential growth areas are in foreign markets.
“Farmers and ranchers, agriculture has been very successful exporting our production. And so, interruptions in that, in that trade in these trade agreements, we probably have a lot more to lose than any of the other sectors we’re talking about.”
Anderson stresses that even though the China market is being opened to U.S. beef, those four big export markets remain vital to our beef producers.
“And so, that’s the big risk, whether we’re talking about renegotiating NAFTA, renegotiating or pulling out of our agreement with South Korea, we have a lot to lose, so we’re, roughly seventy-five percent of our beef exports are going to those big four markets, and we have trade agreements with three out of the four of those and so that’s a big deal.”
Bobby Kurten runs a local cow/calf operation.
“And that’s one of the reasons that we all, at some level or another should be interested and informed about our government and then get active in our government. Learn what the government can or will do that will affect us, and then get involved in it.”