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American Beef Is Back In China


China is one of the top beef-consuming nations in the world. But American producers have been locked out of that lucrative market since a Mad Cow Disease scare 13 years ago.

That changed this week.

Republican Senator Steve Daines describes China’s decision to end its ban on U.S beef as “game-changing news for Montana ranchers.”

“The beef market is critical to Montana jobs and Montana’s economy. With over 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside the United States, opening markets abroad for Montana agriculture exports is absolutely essential.”

Beef prices have tumbled after record highs were recorded last year.

Eric Belasco, an agricultural economist at Montana State University, says foreign demand could possibly help raise those prices again

“Just because we have a history of producing high-quality beef products that can be sent over to these countries.”

Those potential higher prices may not happen immediately, but Belasco says this week’s announcement could have important long term ramifications for Montana ranchers. 

“I think these kinds of trade deals are important looking forward. Think about what is ranching going to look like in 20, 30 or 50 years; these trade deals are critical to make sure that ranching is still profitable moving forward.”

Senator Jon Tester and Governor Steve Bullock, who are both Democrats, issued press releases praising the China deal as a positive for the state’s economy. 

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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