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China Beef Announcement Good News For Kansas Cattle Producers

Brian Seifferlein
Harvest Public Media

On Thursday, China announced plans to begin buying beef from the U.S. again. That’s after a 13-year ban based on concerns about Mad Cow disease.

China banned imports of American beef in 2003 after a dairy cow in Washington State was discovered with BSE, also called mad cow disease.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that forced U.S. producers to build exports elsewhere, and a deal with China could further boost the industry.

"We’ve looked, now in the beef industry finally, at equaling and exceeding the level of beef sales as they were prior to the BSE incident in 2003."

Vilsack did caution that the export deal with China is still a work in progress. In recent years the U.S. has also resumed beef exports to South Korea and Japan.

This is likely to be good news for Kansas cattle ranchers. Scarlett Hagins, with the Kansas Livestock Association, says China is a huge market that also has a demand for cuts of beef that don’t sell as well in America. Hagins says it’s not clear when Kansas beef producers could begin shipping to China, because there are still details to work out.

“This is a great first step, but the next step involves the technical negotiations between the countries to establish the rules and protocols for beef produced in the United States to be sold in China,” Hagins says.

In response to the ban lift, Gov. Sam Brownback issued the following statement:

“This is tremendous news for Kansas farmers and ranchers and presents an opportunity to provide the growing middle class in China with high-quality Kansas beef. While our governments must continue to work closely on specific trade details to ensure a final agreement is based on sound science, this is an important and very positive step forward for the U.S. beef industry. “I have and will continue to support opportunities to add more value to Kansas agriculture, and one important way to do that is through expanded market access around the globe. This is very positive news for the beef industry, and I look forward to learning more details as further progress is made in opening this key market.”

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and High Plains Radio covering health, education and politics.
Harvest Public Media's reporter at NET News, where he started as Morning Edition host in 2008. He joined Harvest Public Media in July 2012. Grant has visited coal plants, dairy farms, horse tracks and hospitals to cover a variety of stories. Before going to Nebraska, Grant studied mass communication as a grad student at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and completed his undergrad at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. He grew up on a farm in southwestern Iowa where he listened to public radio in the tractor, but has taken up city life in Lincoln, Neb.