USMEF Exporter Committee Report

By Mark Gustafson, Chairman


The USMEF Exporter Committee discussed key issues related to market access for U.S. beef, pork and lamb at its May 21 meeting in San Antonio. This included a report from USMEF Senior Vice President for Trade Access Thad Lively and Technical Services Manager Travis Arp on their recent meetings with Egyptian and Saudi Arabian government officials regarding regulations affecting imports of U.S. beef.

Egypt is a critical market for U.S. beef variety meat, accounting for more than one third of our variety meat export volume in 2014. It is an especially important destination for beef livers, taking 78 percent of last year’s liver exports. Last year Egypt adopted a new standard for use of hormonal growth promotants (HGPs) that is of great concern to the U.S. industry. Lively and Arp provided a recap of a recent workshop USMEF hosted for Egyptian government officials that focused on the science surrounding HGPs and the international standard-setting process. We are hopeful that the information provided will allow regulatory officials in Egypt to develop science-based standards that will ease concerns about maintaining access to the market, but it is a situation USMEF continues to monitor carefully.

Saudi Arabia closed to U.S. beef following the 2012 BSE case detected in California. More than three years later, we still have no access to what was once a $30 million-per-year market. But a recent meeting with Saudi officials was encouraging, and we hope to see progress on this issue soon.

Next, representatives from the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), National Pork Board (NPB), and North American Meat Institute (NAMI) reported on the status of various trade issues, including congressional efforts to renew trade promotion authority (TPA), the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations, country-of-origin labeling (COOL), beef and pork access issues in China and trichinae-related market access barriers for U.S. pork.

Legislation to renew TPA cleared the U.S. Senate on May 22 and is expected to be taken up soon in the House of Representatives. Renewal of TPA is especially critical now that the United States is in the final stages of TPP negotiations, including important bilateral talks with Japan. TTIP negotiations between the U.S. and European Union have not advanced nearly as far as the TPP talks, but EU officials are also watching the TPA debate carefully.

The WTO Appellate Body recently upheld an earlier ruling that found U.S. COOL requirements for red meat to be out of compliance with our international trade obligations. On May 20, the House Agriculture Committee advanced legislation to repeal COOL requirements for red meat and chicken. The issue will now be taken up by the full House. The timeline for addressing COOL in the Senate is not yet clear.

The U.S. pork industry has made recent gains, especially in South America, regarding trichinae-related restrictions imposed by trading partners. However, NPPC representatives emphasized that a global standard is still needed in order to facilitate science-based trade.

NCBA CEO Forrest Roberts, chairman of the Meat Industry International Stewardship Advisory Council (MIISAC), gave a progress report on MIISAC. The goal of MIISAC is to facilitate access for U.S. red meat exports to international markets and champion the adoption of science-based standards for production and processing technologies by meat importing countries.

USMEF Beef and Allied Industries Committee Chairman Kevin Kester reported that he would introduce a resolution asking USMEF members that support expanded agricultural exports to Cuba to advocate for the needed statutory and regulatory changes to permit the use of USDA program funding and checkoff funding for market development activities. This resolution was passed by the USMEF Board of Directors the following day.

The Exporter Committee meeting also included a recap of a meeting held the previous day with USDA Deputy Under Secretaries Al Almanza and Alexis Taylor, FAS representatives Paul Spencer and Joanna Brown, and AMS representative Diana Turnbull, which was attended by several members of the committee. Topics covered in this meeting included an update on efforts to restore access for U.S. beef and improve access for U.S. pork in China and the need to address Japan’s restrictions on the use of pathogen reduction technologies.

Before adjourning, a motion was approved to modify language regarding seats on the Exporter Committee. This change was made to reflect the recent merger of the North American Meat Association and the American Meat Institute. The merged entity (NAMI) will now hold a seat on the committee.

If you have questions regarding any items in this report, please email Exporter Committee staff liaison Paul Clayton or call him at 303-623-6328.