DENVER – A study assessing the potential impact on US producers and processors of evolving thinking about animal ID and traceability in leading export markets and traceability systems that have already been put in place by other major beef and pork exporting countries has been released by the US Meat Export Federation.

Titled “Economic Assessment of Evolving Red Meat Export Market Access Requirements for Traceability of Livestock and Meat,” the study was conducted by researchers at Kansas State Univ., Colorado State Univ. and Montana State Univ. It points out the US and India are the only two major beef exporters that do not already have mandatory traceability systems. Argentina, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Uruguay all have animal identification/traceability programs in place.

Commissioned by USMEF, the study provides an analysis of the domestic cattle traceability systems employed by selected major importers of US beef. Japan and Korea, among the highest value markets for US red meat exports, have adopted mandatory traceability programs, which could eventually lead to similar requirements being applied to imports.

Sanitary and phytosanitary restrictions imposed on the major beef exporters by the top importing countries are also compared in the study. For some exporting nations, such as Australia and New Zealand, there are no restrictions imposed by trading partners. Brazil and Argentina face foot and mouth disease-related restrictions and traceability systems are critical for exports from these South American countries that are not entirely free of FMD.

The US faces bovine spongiform encephalopathy-related product and age restrictions from a number of major importing countries, such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Russia and Mexico, as well as restrictions from the European Union based on hormone use. China’s beef market also remains closed to imports from the US due to BSE-related restrictions.

Competing beef exporting nations are using their industries’ mandatory traceability systems as marketing tools to enhance their sales and as a point of differentiation with the US industry, the study noted.

The study concludes that animal health management and food safety are the primary drivers behind most countries’ decisions to build animal ID and traceability into the regulatory frameworks for their livestock industries. Improved supply-chain coordination and enhanced producer management opportunities are secondary motivators.

“As we have seen in the beef industry engaged in voluntary USDA Process Verified Program and Quality System Assessment verification programs for countries like Japan and the EU – countries that have export verification requirements specific to animal identification and traceability – it can work effectively,” said Leann Saunders, president of IMI Global, a member of USMEF’s executive committee and chairperson of the USMEF working group on traceability. “Since we are currently exporting about 16 percent of total US beef and variety meat production and 29 percent of pork, traceability is a form of insurance that would insulate American producers in the event that importing countries change their import requirements or in the event of an animal disease outbreak.”

Funding for the research report was provided by the USDA Market Access Program (MAP).