In win for Montana ranchers, China to open market to U.S. beef

By Martin Kidston/Missoula Current

A month after traveling to China as part of a trade delegation, Sen. Steve Daines on Friday said an agreement had been reached with the Asian power that will open its markets to U.S. beef this summer.

In exchange, the U.S. will issue a proposed rule allowing Chinese cooked poultry to enter the U.S.

Daines, who visited with Chinese officials during last month’s visit, including Premier Li Keqiang, said a formalized agreement should be reached in the coming weeks, and markets should open to beef exports no later than July 16.

“With over 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside of the U.S., access to foreign markets is critical to growing good-paying jobs and maintaining Montana’s strong economy,” Daines said Friday. “In a state where there are nearly three times as many cattle as people, opening Chinese markets to Montana beef is essential to our state’s number one economic driver – agriculture.”

Opening Chinese markets to U.S. beef serves as a win for Montana ranchers. China banned U.S. beef imports in 2003 after a single case of mad cow disease in Washington state, effectively cutting off exports to one of the world’s largest economies.

The deals announced Friday likely stem from trade talks that began in April when President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Florida to discuss the two economies.

According to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the countries have agreed that China will allow U.S. imports of beef no later than mid-July. The U.S. will issue a proposed rule to allow Chinese cooked poultry to enter U.S. markets by the same deadline.

Other trade issues with China remain in play.

“The easiest place for us to focus for the moment is agriculture,” Daines said. “When you look at these emerging Asian markets, it presents a tremendous growth opportunity for Montana agriculture.”