The international market for U.S. beef not only dominated the headlines in 2005, but the attention of beef producers as well, making it by far the No. 1 story for cattlemen this year.
"There's no doubt that the international trade situation, particularly reopening the Japanese market, was the main issue in Cattle Feeding Country this year," says Richard McDonald, president & CEO of the Texas Cattle Feeders Association. "And we got an early Christmas present when Japan announced this week that it will reopen its market to U.S. beef from cattle under 21 months of age."
While reopening the Japanese market was a top priority for cattle feeders this year, it wasn't the only issue cattle feeders faced. "This was a positive and pivotal year for cattle feeders," McDonald says. "The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the beef checkoff is constitutional and a decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reopened the U.S. border, leading to normalization of trade with Canada."
In addition, McDonald says the BSE firewalls in place in the U.S. are working. So far, 548,786 high-risk cattle have tested negative. "This gives cattle feeders, as well as our consumers here in the U.S. and internationally, strong reassurance that the U.S. beef supply is safe."
Here are the top 10 news stories in the cattle feeding industry that made headlines this year:
1. Japan announced it would reopen its market to U.S. beef from cattle under 21 months of age.
2. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the beef checkoff is constitutional.
3. BSE testing continues to show the U.S. has a successful BSE prevention program. So far, 548,786 high-risk cattle have tested negative for BSE.
4. Development of a national animal ID system moves closer to reality.
5. A Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision reopened the U.S. border, leading to normalization of trade with Canada.
6. Mandatory country-of-origin labeling was delayed for two years.
7. The first domestic case of BSE was identified in a Texas cow.
8. The rebuilding phase of the cattle cycle began in 2005, ending the longest cattle cycle on record. The past cattle cycle lasted an unprecedented 15 years.
9. CAFTA-DR, a free trade agreement with several Central American countries, passed.
10. Overseas beef markets slowly reopened to U.S. beef, including Chile, Egypt and the Mideast.