Potential return of U.S. Beef to China could help Kansas producers

Published: Sep. 23, 2016 at 10:31 PM CDT
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U.S. Beef could be headed back to China.

"It's a situation, where as a producer, we are cautiously optimistic at this point for sure," said Tod Kalous, assistant general manager of Pratt Feeders.

That guarded optimism was a common theme among several cattle producers Eyewitness News spoke with Friday, as China says they are ready to lift a ban on the import of U.S. Beef that's been in place since 2003.

"We've kind of been in this position for several years now, so it's definitely a potential positive for the industry," Kalous said. "At this point nothing has been agreed to, or arranged as far as what those arrangements will look like."

Kalous said in a two year stretch, the cattle market has gone from record high prices, to a current five year low. In theory, China's cooperation with the U.S. Beef industry could help lift some of that burden from cattle producers.

"The experts estimate that exports are worth $300 per fed animal that we produce," Kalous said. "So as a producer, that stuff definitely trickles down to every operator or cow/calf producer at all segments of the industry."

But it's not a simple process for producers to get their beef to China. According to CNN, beef older than 30 months will still be banned, and U.S. exports will have to comply with several of China's regulations. Those could be different than cattle producers see in the U.S.

"There's some other things. What kind of restrictions would they put on opening up to U.S. beef, regarding traceability or growth promotants?" Kalous wonders. "Those are all details that will have to be worked out in this agreement."