Speaking at the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual convention Monday, former Chief Agricultural Negotiator Richard Crowder, now a senior adviser to U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab, and economist Erin Daley of the U.S. Meat Export Federation said they believe key markets for U.S. beef and pork will re-open later this year.
"You can't script trade negotiations," Crowder said, but he said he believes South Korea will resume imports of U.S. beef. He said a new administration is taking office in South Korea, and resumption of the U.S.-Korea beef trade is approaching.
Crowder and Daley agreed that an increase in the number of middle-class consumers overseas will translate into more individuals who can afford meat, especially higher-quality cuts. Further, the weak value of the U.S. dollar makes it easier for foreign countries to purchase U.S.-produced meat and other products. Daley said global consumption of red meat is up by nearly 400 percent in recent years, and solid market growth is possible in Mexico, Russia, China, Japan and elsewhere in the years ahead.
But there is no question challenges remain. High tariffs and non-science-based barriers, such as zero-tolerance levels of salmonella, are significant obstacles at this time. Crowder said it is essential for tariffs and quotas to be reduced or eliminated so U.S. agricultural producers have opportunities to build business abroad.