Chile opens door wider to US beef

by Bryan Salvage
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WASHINGTON – US producers are now eligible to ship a larger array of US beef and beef products to Chile, following months of bilateral meetings between officials from the Chilean government, US Department of Agriculture and the Office of the US Trade Representative.

"This action by the government of Chile will provide Chilean consumers with greater access to safe, high-quality US beef," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “These negotiations were based on a mutual respect for international, science-based standards, and USDA will continue to work with other nations to open their markets to US beef based on the same, internationally-accepted principles."

"Expanding our market for US beef exports to Chile is an important advance," said US Trade Representative Ron Kirk. "Having just attended the meetings between President Obama and President Pinera in Chile, I know how vibrant and deep our trade relationship is. The commitment of Chile and the United States to work together to promote science-based trade rules while providing our consumers with safe and wholesome foods is a win-win for both countries."

In 2010, the US exported approximately $6.2 million in beef and beef products to Chile. Last year, the US exported approximately $4.1 billion of beef and beef products, an increase of 32% from 2009. The value of US beef exports in 2010 was on par with beef trade figures preceding 2004 – when bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was discovered in December 2003 in a cow that had been exported from Canada to Washington State.

USDA has worked hard since that time to regain market access for US beef and beef products around the world, Vilsack said. As a result, more than 100 markets are now open to US beef.

Last year, US farm exports, including beef and beef products, reached a record high of $115.8 billion. The most-recent forecast for US farm exports in fiscal year 2011 predicts a record $135.5 billion in sales for products from US farmers, ranchers and processors, which would support more than 1.1 million jobs.

In fiscal year 2011, the US agricultural trade surplus is expected to reach a record $47.5 billion.
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