Report highlights value of international beef trade

A new trade report analyzing the effects of beef imports and exports highlights the strong economic value of the U.S. beef industry’s participation in a global marketplace.

The report, “Assessing Economic Impact That Would Follow Loss of US Beef Exports and Imports,” was authored by Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist, and Glynn Tonsor, professor of agricultural economics at Kansas State University.

Commissioned by the Kansas Beef Council, Oklahoma Beef Council and Texas Beef Council, Peel and Tonsor spent six months preparing the 80-page document that was released on Sept. 26.

Peel said he has fielded questions his entire career concerning beef imports, and many people are not aware of the value of exports, believing more than enough beef is grown in the U.S. to sustain its population. His findings prove otherwise.

“One of the main points that came out of this report is the recognition that while producers produce cattle as a single product, what they sell becomes thousands of different products,” he said. “The marketplace plays a big role in sorting out where the best value is for all those products that ultimately contribute to the overall value of cattle.”

When opportunities are available, the U.S. exports specific products to certain markets, and the vast range of different beef commodities helps the industry grow.

“The U.S. is a relatively mature market in terms of where we are with beef demand, but there’s a lot more potential in the global market, broadly speaking,” Peel said. “Potential growth in the industry is going to rest more and more with the trade sector, and we highlight the fact that the marketplace has grown a lot in the last 20 to 30 years.”

Peel and Tonsor’s research shows that a 10% reduction in beef imports and exports over a 10-year period would result in a $20 billion impact to cattle producers.

“Bottom line, there would be huge economic losses if we did not trade, and the beef industry would be much smaller,” Peel said.

The full report is available through the K-State Department of Agricultural Economics.