At the 2023 Cattle Industry Convention, Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, had the chance to visit with the Executive Director of Government Affairs at National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Kent Bacus, about the state of U.S. beef trade deals.
Regarding any updates in trade deals, Bacus said the biggest issue recently has been resolving the Japan beef quota issue.
“That was truly something that we were thankful for the Biden administration engaging on in securing that,” Bacus said. “Other than that, there hasn’t been a lot of progress on a lot of other issues.”
With some good players such as Alexis Taylor, who was confirmed to serve Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs and Chief Agricultural Negotiator Doug McKalip, Bacus said he is expecting great things to come.
“It is good to have people at the table, but we have got to get in the game,” Bacus said.
Getting back into robust comprehensive trade, Bacus said, will be a challenge with some new members of congress who have campaigned on anti-trade agendas.
“You have got to find a balance there,” Bacus said. “You have got to find the people who understand and have experienced the real benefits of trade. For us in the industry, exports account for about 450 bucks per head, so there is no denying that we have been a significant beneficiary of aggressive trade policies over the last few years. We have to reengage. We have to open new markets; we have to secure new markets.”
Trading with allies of the United States, Bacus said, is going to be critical.
“There is absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t be moving forward with an agreement with the United Kingdom,” Bacus said. “That is a very important economy that has left the European Union. They are looking to adopt more science-based policies, and this is an opportunity to we are just kind of letting die on the vine right now if we don’t act on it.”
If America wants to tackle inflation, and strong steady growth that brings more jobs to rural America, Bacus said trade must be part of that conversation.
“It is obvious with the United States stepping back from these negotiations with the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand have already stepped up,” Bacus said. “India is moving in as well. There is no reason why these countries should be ahead of us in line. We are the biggest economy.”
The United States is one of the strongest allies of the United Kingdom, Bacus said, yet with us stepping back, that has created a void.
“When you look at some of the other countries where we don’t have much alignment at all as far as foreign policy is concerned, China is out there grabbing up every market that they can, and that is all about securing supply chains and securing their influence all across Africa, South American and all other parts of Asia,” Bacus said.
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