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USDA releases requirements for beef exported to China

Written specifications for US beef exported to China is a big step forward, according to Iowa Cattlemen’s Association CEO Matt Deppe.

“We’ve been hearing for some time that China would re-open to US exports, but until recently, the details were unclear,” says Deppe. “The requirements released by the US Department of Agriculture on Monday give the industry a much better understanding of the nature of the beef products that will be accepted.”

The requirements are more stringent than most other international destinations for US beef. The beef must be from cattle:

-less than 30 months of age

-born, raised in the US, Mexico or Canada

-slaughtered in the US

-free of growth promotants, feed additives and other chemical compounds including ractopamine

These requirements may initially challenge some producers and processors, but various voluntary process-verified programs exist that would meet the specifications.

“There can be more costs associated with these programs, but there may also be more profit,” says Deppe. “Regardless, the programs are voluntary and it will be up to individual producers to decide whether participation in a process-verified program works for them.”

International trade has been a priority for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, which represents 10,000 members in the state of Iowa on legislative and policy issues such as this.

“Beef exports have the potential to dramatically increase Iowa cattle producers’ bottom lines. Most of the products exported, like tongue, hides and offal, are not valued to US consumers, and would become waste products without international markets,” says Deppe. US beef has not been allowed in China since 2003.

ICA has encouraged governmental leaders to expand beef trade through policy agreements, and is appreciative of the emphasis the White House has placed on agricultural trade with China. ICA President, Mike Cline and Deppe will travel to China in July with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds to further expand the market for US beef there.

Other key importers of US beef include Japan, Mexico, South Korea and others. ICA’s regional meetings this month feature a “Tour of the World” taste-testing event, where participants can sample traditional beef dishes from international destinations and learn about the beef products enjoyed there.

For more information on policy priorities and ICA’s Regional BeefMeets, visit