New beef exports to China could be boon for Valley ranchers

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After a 13-year absence, a new trade deal struck under the Trump Administration will now allow U.S beef exports into China. (KFSN)

For the first time in more than a decade, the U.S. will ship beef product to China, increasing market demand.

After a 13-year absence, a new trade deal struck under the Trump Administration will now allow U.S beef exports into China.

"When you start looking at the potential for this market, it is quite substantial and something that I think California producers are going to benefit from because of our proximity to China," Ryan Jacobsen with the Fresno County Farm Bureau explained.

According to the USDA, the U.S. sold $5.4 billion worth of beef to other countries last year, making it the fourth-largest beef exporter in the world. Sales to China will help that number grow.

"It's a massive market," Jacobsen said. "We're looking at a market that, in the last five years, has expanded by almost $2 billion. So, it's a great opportunity to really take advantage of to get our beef in other places in the world."

In 2012, China brought in $275 million worth of beef. That number jumped to $2.5 billion last year.

"Anytime you open any of these markets up, it gives our local ranchers the opportunity to take advantage of their markets and hopefully increases their bottom line," Jacobsen said.

"If the demand gets high, more cattle will be shipped overseas," rancher Roger Tweedy said. "And the demand will come out here and maybe prices will go up."

Tweedy is optimistic about the future. He says over the last two decades, he's seen the cost per head fluctuate. So, it'll be a waiting game to see how this directly impacts him.

"It'll be some time before it changes," he said. "They have to get all the cattle, butcher them, ship beef and get contracts on all that."

As for the cost of throwing a tri-tip on the grill for your next barbecue?

"I don't see anything in the immediate term, but, long term, as the industry adjusts and meets those demands, I don't really see a lot of effect to the American consumer," Jacobsen argued.

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