DENVER — On May 13, the U.S. and the E.U. reached an agreement on the long-running dispute on U.S. beef imports to the E.U. While this agreement does not lift the E.U.’s ban on beef from hormone-treated cattle, it provides duty-free access to the E.U. for a large quantity of U.S. beef exports.

John Brook, U.S.M.E.F. regional director for Europe, Russia and the Middle East, explains the terms of this agreement are expected to make production of hormone-free beef for export to the E.U. more economically attractive for U.S. packers and cattle producers.

"This opens the possibility to ship beef to the E.U. at zero percent of import duties compared to the 20% import duty, which is currently paid," Mr. Brook said. "With the removal of 20% of the overall cost of doing business, we will be able to ship a larger proportion of a carcass to the E.U. This deal is a huge advantage to U.S. beef industry and U.S. producers. It is going to bring added value to the packers and farmers in the U.S."

However, there are some skeptics in the U.S. on this agreement, Mr. Brook said. "Some people feel this agreement came about because of the threat of moving the customs tax on E.U. products from the previous list that existed to a new list of products," he added. "But for those people who think continuous trade-dispute action at the World Trade Organization could have pushed the E.U. into a position whereby they would open to import beef treated with growth promotants from the U.S., this is certainly not the case.

"They’re not going to change the policy of the E.U. on beef treated with growth promotants through trade disputes," Mr. Brook continued. "That is a long-term objective and it requires first of all (winning) the hearts and the minds of European consumers. It is not through a trade dispute...that will change that situation."