From the Ground Up: Growing Potential Beef Exports Create Optimism

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COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (KBTX) - Ranchers, just like farmers are always hoping for better prices next year, and a strong demand for beef here at home along with some optimism about increased exports has many industry experts encouraged for 2020.

Jason Cleere is an Associate Professor and Texas A&M Agrilife Extension beef cattle specialist.

“Domestic consumption is great. The population is growing here in the U.S. The economy is great in the U.S. Beef is a luxury item so when the economy’s good, people are working, unemployment is low, people are willing to buy beef. At the same time globally the population is growing. The Japan deal is a huge impact for us.”

Cleere says that there’s been a lot of talk about China over the last couple of years because of the opportunities that could be seen.

“Japan, we just needed to get the tariffs fair because people in Japan, they love our product. They love U.S. beef. But when we’re competing with tariffs from Australia that are significantly lower or other countries, it’s hard. With the new trade agreements, our tariffs are going to come down and we’re on an even playing field and so that Japan market, that’s going to increase and that’s a huge opportunity.”

Cleere points out that in recent years South Korea took up the slack from Japan.

“And they’ve almost surpassed Japan as being our number one importer of U.S. beef. Now I can see that Japan market’s going to come on up and it’s going to creep up and that we’re going to be players. If we could increase the demand or the amount of product going to China, that’s a huge demand and when you sell more beef globally, it reduces the amount of beef products here domestically and can bring our prices up for producers.”

But Cleere stresses that the importance of U.S. consumers can’t be discounted.

“Now, we do have to be very careful with that. I don’t want to put all my eggs in the export basket. I want to make sure we’ve got a very strong domestic beef consumption here because borders can close and then we’d have a wreck on our hands.”