Officials with the U.S. Meat Export Federation Tuesday said meat exports are looking good for the year, but absence from Russian markets, along with BSE barriers in China and Australia, continue to be a hurdle to further trade expansion.
The officials met as part of the organization's Strategic Planning Conference in Ft. Worth, Texas, Nov. 5-7.
A quick review of the year thus far reveals that while Russia and China have presented barriers, market access for U.S. meat in Japan and Hong Kong, along with strong prospects for trade deals, have provided U.S. producers and exporters significant opportunity.
Currently, U.S. meat is in 110 countries around the world, USMEF President Philip Seng said in a press call, but BSE regulations, farm bill provisions and trade negotiations remain top priority for USMEF as they work to advance that number.
BSE still plaguing trade
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy fears still have a hold on some countries, Seng said, despite the World Organization for Animal Health's status upgrade for the U.S. earlier this year.
2013 marks 10 years since BSE was first discovered in the United States.
"We still have some unfinished business when it comes to BSE," Seng said. "There's almost five nations that we have to deal with when it comes to access issues, number one being Australia."
Australia is the top competitor with the U.S. for meat exports, Seng explained, yet its markets have not been opened up to U.S. beef.
"We see this as basically something that's almost egregious at this time, and when you take a look at the international standards, the amount of scholarship and research that's gone into BSE, this is something that we need to address because it's our number one competitor internationally and it does have opportunity for our products," Seng said.