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Audio: Global Response to BSE Case Encouraging, but Maintaining Exports Still a Challenge

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Click to play audio file One week after USDA’s announcement of a new BSE case in California, a partial import ban by Indonesia remains the only official change in market access for U.S. beef. The Indonesian market remains open to imports of boneless beef cuts from the United States, but has closed to beef variety meat, bone-in muscle cuts and other beef products.

While Indonesia’s decision is disappointing, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Philip Seng says it was mainly due to Indonesia’s desire to bolster its own domestic beef production rather than actual concerns about BSE. Seng adds that the vast majority of U.S. trading partners have followed sound science and handled news of the BSE case responsibly.

Seng cautions, however, that maintaining market access is only part of the battle. In key markets, USMEF staff members have been actively engaged with industry partners, media contacts and other influential sources in an effort to maintain consumer confidence and dispel any misinformation about the safety or quality of U.S. beef. These activities are critical to maintaining consumer demand and protecting U.S. market share.

TRANSCRIPT:

JOE SCHUELE: This is Joe Schuele with the U.S. Meat Export Federation report. Nearly one week after USDA’s announcement of a new BSE case in California, a partial import ban by Indonesia remains the only official change in market access for U.S. beef. USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng says the vast majority of U.S. trading partners have followed sound science and handled news of the BSE case responsibly.

PHILIP SENG: We’re please with the response by the international markets to what happened last week. The only market that officially closed was at this point is Indonesia. Thailand has informally said they are very close to closing (EDITOR’S NOTE: Thailand did not close, access remained unchanged) pending what can be discovered as far as USDA’s report. Indonesia has been trying to become more self-sufficient for a long time, and what we’ve seen here recently in the current government there is that they’ve really taken this to the extreme. So we see the closure has having much more to do with them trying to be self-sufficient and keep foreign competition out. So we see much more involved with Indonesia than just the occurrence of last week.

JOE SCHUELE: Seng cautions, however, that maintaining market access is only part of the battle. Effective communication in these markets is critical to maintaining consumer demand and protecting U.S. market share.

PHILIP SENG: The fact that we have so few markets that are closed to us is encouraging. But then we have the public side of it, and reason to take more time to do some reassurance to consumers in a lot of these markets. Number one is we try to work with all the key opinion leaders in each market which would be the press, it would be the bloggers and social media. It would be with the leading retailers and foodservice to make sure that even if the government says the market is open, they have to make an internal decision based on their information. So we’re trying to provide them as much information as we can about the case and about the multiple hurdles and interlocking safeguards we have in the production process, giving them the assurance they need to keep their stores or restaurants open.

JOE SCHUELE: For more on this and other trade issues, please visit www.usmef.org.
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