By Meghan Wooldridge
American ranchers have always taken pride in their work and their cattle. We, as Americans, have been fortunate to be able to have access to American Beef. The rest of the world seems to be realizing that they want some too!
The following facts from The Daily Livestock Report (Chicago Mercantile Exchange) on August 16th, 2011 are encouraging:
- Beef exports continue to soar. June shipments of 80,909 metric tons were the largest this year, barely eclipsing the level of March. June shipments also represented the fourth largest month ever, trailing only August of 2000 and June and July of 2003. June exports were 20% higher than last year and brought total shipments to 442,433 metric tons, 26% higher than during the first half of 2010.
- The largest destination for U.S. beef remained Canada this month with 16,766 metric tons being shipped northward. That is 67% more than last year and brings the yearly total to nearly 80,000 metric tons, 25.2% more than in January-June 2010.
- Japan remained the second largest customer for U.S. beef. June exports amounted to 15,366 metric tons, 26% higher than last year. That brought first half 2011 exports to Japan to 67,433 metric tons 52% larger than in 2010.
- Mexico, which was once our largest beef customer, remained the third largest destination in June but is second in the year-to-date rankings. Exports to Mexico this year are only 2.1% larger than in 2010 through June.
- Korea, which was responsible for the huge surge in beef exports in March, actually took less beef than last year for the second straight month. Year-to-date shipments, driven by over 22,000 metric tons in March ( 4X the 2010 level) are still up 70%% for the year.
- The value of beef exports exceeded $400 million for only the second time in history in June. The first time was in March. June’s $406.5 million was 25.5% larger than last year and brought YTD value to $2.233 billion, 41.5% higher than 2010.
Part of the mystery for ranchers is how they capitalize on the increased international demand. In order for American beef to ship to certain export markets, third party verification approved by the USDA is required. Several companies offer Process Verified Program (PVP) services to producers. A list of approved companies can be found at http://www.ams.usda.gov.
An example is AgInfoLink, a Colorado-based PVP company (1-800-287-8787 or email@example.com).
Beef destined for Japan must be from cattle that are under 20 months of age at the time of harvest. Cattle that potentially meet this requirement must be Age and Source Verified. Documentation of calving dates and specific animal identification are two fundamental criteria.
In order for beef to be exported to the European Union, the cattle harvested must be third party verified as Non-Hormone Treated Cattle (NHTC). These cattle cannot be given any hormonal growth promotants, including implants, at any point during their life.
As with any value-added opportunity, the results are heavily dependent on how the animals are marketed. Video sales are a popular and convenient place to see the premium potential of Age and Source and NHTC cattle.
At the end of the day, Americans should be proud of their country and its cattle. BEEF…Its what’s for dinner… anyone know the Japanese translation??