Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announces posting of technical documents related to shipments.
WASHINGTON – The US Dept. of Agriculture recently posted requirements for the agency’s Export Verification program for US beef packers wanting approval to ship beef to China.

Shipments of US beef are set to resume after a 13-year hiatus following technical consultations between the US and China. The agreement allows for qualified beef products produced after May 24, 2017, to be exported once a processing plant is approved by USDA as eligible to export to China. Requirements include:

  • Beef and beef products must be derived from cattle that were born, raised and slaughtered in the US, cattle that were imported from Canada or Mexico and subsequently raised and slaughtered in the US, or cattle that were imported from Canada or Mexico for direct slaughter;
  • Cattle must be traceable to the US birth farm using a unique identifier, or if imported to the first place of residence or port of entry;
  • Beef and beef products must be derived from cattle less than 30 months of age;
  • Chilled or frozen bone-in and deboned beef products are eligible for shipment. A complete listing is available in the FSIS Export Library; and
  • Carcasses, beef and beef products must be uniquely identified and controlled up until the time of shipment.

Philip Seng, president and CEO of the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF), noted that  the market-opening agreement includes requirements that will involve a period of adjustment for the US beef industry.

“Meeting these requirements will add costs and this will mean that US beef is priced at a premium compared to other suppliers in the market,” Seng said. “With that said, China holds exciting potential for the US beef industry and for buyers in the market who have waited a very long time for the return of high-quality US beef.” 

China banned shipments of US beef in 2003. The US was China’s largest supplier of imported beef, providing 70 percent of their total intake until the ban took effect. The value of imports of US beef to China has increased to $2.5 billion in 2016 from $275 million in 2012, according to USDA. The US is the world’s largest beef producer and was the world’s fourth-largest exporter, with global sales of more than $5.4 billion in 2016.

“The Administration showed great leadership in reaching this deal with the Chinese government quickly and in negotiating such positive terms for access,” said Barry Carpenter, president and CEO of the North American Meat Institute. “The demand in China for high quality US beef is high, so opening the market offers great potential for our businesses and the US economy as a whole.”

USDA said restored access to China’s market for beef is the result of the US-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue co-chaired by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin representing the US and Vice Premier Wang Yang representing China.

Sonny Perdue
Sonny Perdue, Agriculture Secretary

“Today is a great day for the United States and in particular for our cattle producers, who will be regaining access to an enormous market with an ever-expanding middle class,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement. “Since he was elected, President Trump has brought momentum, optimism, and results to American agriculture families that we haven’t seen in years and this agreement is a great example.  I commend the hard work of Secretary Ross, Secretary Mnuchin, Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and our USDA representatives. Without their dedication and persistence, this would have not been possible.  I have no doubt that as soon as the Chinese people get a taste of American beef they’ll want more of it.”

Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), said the terms of the deal “... are a reflection of China's trust in the safety and quality of US beef. We hope that by getting our foot in the door we can develop a long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationship with China.”