Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and President Donald Trump announced new details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Trump also said that the U.S. should “terminate” trade deals that require imports of cattle from other countries.
“I read yesterday where we take some cattle in from other countries, we have trade deals. I think you should look at terminating those deals,” Trump said yesterday during the live announcement. “We have a lot of cattle in this country.”
United States Cattlemen’s Association President Brooke Miller said, “With the weight of the global pandemic putting economic pressure on family farmers and ranchers, we welcome the relief provided through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program announced today. Further, we greatly appreciate the President’s comments on the need to stem the influx of imported cattle into this country. Our nation’s strength lies in our ability to produce a safe, abundant, and affordable food supply. We need to preserve this food security by creating opportunities for U.S. agricultural producers to thrive.”
In April 2020, USCA sent a letter to Perdue requesting the prioritization of U.S. beef and cattle as the nation experiences the impacts of ripe feedyards and decreased slaughtering capacity.
However, Trent Loos sat down with Kansas State University Livestock Economist Glynn Tonsor to explain how U.S. producers actually receive benefit from the importation of beef and pork.
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association also commented on Trump’s remarks. CEO Colin Woodall said, “Today’s comment by President Donald Trump demonstrates the complexity of the U.S. beef business. Live cattle imports to the United States only come from Canada and Mexico and will continue to do so under the terms of the President’s newly negotiated USMCA. America has not imported live cattle from other nations for several years.
“However, if President Trump is serious about reconsidering import decisions, NCBA and its members strongly request the White House to take another look at his decision to allow fresh beef imports from nations like Brazil, where there continue to be concerns with foot-and-mouth disease and USDA’s decision to reopen the American market to Brazilian beef.
“Beef trade is a complex business, and America’s cattle producers rely on safe and reliable international trading partners, both as a destination for the undervalued cuts we produce here, such as hearts, tongues, and livers, and for importation of lean trim for ground beef production to meet strong consumer demand. Approximately 12 percent of beef consumed in the U.S. is imported product, but that product must meet the U.S. standards for safety before it is allowed into our market.
“President Trump has shown his willingness to negotiate difficult trade deals and take on tough trading partners, and NCBA thanks him for the attention he has given to beef. We encourage him to re-examine the decision to reopen the market to imports from Brazil, Namibia, and any other nation where there are food safety or animal health concerns that could impact American consumers or cattle producers. A re-evaluation of those imports can accomplish his goals of protecting both American cattle producers and American consumer confidence in our own beef supply chain.”