Several U.S. trade officials will travel to China June 5 to finalize trade protocols regarding coming US beef shipments to China.
Source verification will be one of the requirements, according to Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist Derrell Peel. “However, I think that’s pretty doable in what we call a ‘bookend’ system in the U.S. if we can document the original source of the cattle as well as where they ended up at the processing plant, and not necessarily all of the travels in between,” Peel said.
Beijing has accepted a U.S. proposal in principle that would require producers to document the locations where cattle raised for beef exported to China are born and slaughtered, USDA said. The system would be less onerous than tracking cattle throughout their entire lives, during which they can be kept at up to four different locations. Peel estimated that US producers trace the movements of less than 20 percent of the nation’s cattle.
China will also require that beef be free from residue of beta-agonists, the growth promoting feed additive. “The Chinese have been very consistent, in both beef and pork, at not accepting ractopamine — or, in beef, Optaflexx is the same product,” Peel noted. “That’s likely to be the case for us as well. That would be consistent with their agreements with other countries.”
Peel said there will likely be restrictions on other growth hormones used in the U.S.
Hormone residue testing will be done on beef entering China, but there will be a distinction made between synthetic and naturally occurring hormones. Meat containing synthetic hormone residue will be rejected. Meat containing residue of naturally occurring hormones will only be rejected if the levels are above those naturally occurring in cattle.
Other details of the protocol discussions include China’s acceptance of U.S. fresh, chilled beef products, as well as frozen, and beef from animals 30 months or younger.
China has agreed to recognize USDA’s certification of processing plants for export, which means plants will not have to be inspected separately by Chinese officials.