Taiwan swiftly closed its doors to U.S. beef following USDA's announcement Friday that a second case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy had been found. Questions remain whether the announcement will slow talks that had been progressing with South Korea and Japan, two other key beef export markets.
Taiwan consumers were buying at U.S. beef as retailers were offering it at discounted prices over the weekend. Officials banned future imports of beef but did not force stores to take U.S. beef off the shelves.
In today's Wall Street Journal, reports indicate the second find will not derail negotiations with the U.S.
Chris Hurt, a Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service ag economist says the test results may put in a damper on beef exports, which had shown signs of picking up.
"I don't think this will have major financial implications, but it may delay our efforts to begin exports to Japan and other countries," he says. "The Japanese will continue to argue for testing of every animal. U.S. government officials have recently put increased pressure on Japan to open their markets to U.S. beef. Now, with the confusion created by this most recent case, the Japanese will likely, at least for now, stand firm on their testing demands."
Efforts underway to keep U.S. beef demand strong
The first BSE case was found before Christmas, testing consumers' confidence in the food supply when buying Christmas dinner ingredients. Fourth of July weekend is prime-time grilling season.
National Cattlemen's Beef Association Chief Economist Greg Doud says NCBA is redoubling efforts to communicate the firewalls in place to keep the food supply safe. This BSE-positive cow was incinerated and never entered the food chain, unlike the first case that required a recall of ground beef in five states.
Most retailers have already purchased product for the holiday sales. Doud is positive consumer confidence will remain high as it did in the first find.