Broadcast News Release
THE SINGLE CASE OF BSE IN WASHINGTON STATEWAS DISCOVERED JUST THREE WEEKS AGO. AS REACTION TO THAT NEWS CONTINUES, U.S. BEEF EXPORTS TO MAJOR MARKETS HAVE NOT YET BEEN RE-ESTABLISHED.
BUT, IN A CONVERSATION MONDAY EVENING, JANUARY 12TH, U.S. MEAT EXPORT FEDERATION PRESIDENT AND CEO PHIL SENG SAID THERE IS STILL SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS BEING MADE IN THE BATTLETO RESUME U.S. BEEF TRADE.
“I think there's a flurry of activity that's occurring. I think you know the USDA, the industry, the trade associations here domestically, I think they're all really recognizing now that trade is of paramount importance. And I think that everybody's devoting full energy to trying to readdress these issues of these closed markets. And that's very encouraging.” (:21)
FROM A BEEF TRADE STANDPOINT, SENG SAYS A VERY SIGNIFICANT PIECE OF NEWS FOR THE U.S. CAME LAST WEEK AS THE USDA WAS ABLE TO DEFINITIVELY TRACE THE INFECTED COW’S ORIGINS.
“I think the main news that's occurred since we last talked would be the fact that the animal has been definitively traced to Canada. The O.I.E. has, as of Friday, put the United States on what they call "provisionally free" as opposed to being credited as having BSE. So this helped us as far as our status internationally. I think also what's happened of significance would be the 30th of December's announcement where the secretary did talk about increased measures to assure people as far as BSE. And even further steps to tighten the surveillance and also include more science on the issue. (:41)
SENG SAYS DNA CONFIRMATION THAT THIS SINGLE CASE OF BSE IN THE U.S. IS ATTRIBUTABLE TO A COW THAT CAME FROM CANADA IS AN IMPORTANT POINT OF DISTINCTION FOR RE-ESTABLISHING U.S. BEEF EXPORT TRADE.
“Well it is huge, because again the O.I.E. designating us as provisionally free. A lot of people would say that it is, that there's no difference that it's a totally integrated market, but the facts are that the BSE did originate in Canada. It's indigenous to Canada, not indigenous to the United States and as you're trying to recover from a setback as major as this, that is key as far as how other countries regard us. (:22)
PRIOR TO THE BSE CASE, JAPAN WAS A ONE BILLION DOLLAR A YEAR MARKET FOR U.S. BEEF. SENG SAYS A JAPANESE DELEGATION’S VISIT TO THE U.S. IS ONE IMPORTANT KEY TO RE-OPENING THAT MARKET.
“Last week a Japanese delegation was in Washington, presently they're in Washington Stateand they're on their way to Canada. We do believe that the Japanese are looking at some of the new science. And the U.S. has from what I understand provided a proposal to the Japanese especially to address the product that's on the water. We, our latest estimates would put us right around 46 thousand metric tons of product, so it's a very sizeable amount of product that's on the water or on the ports, in the ports in these foreign countries, especially in Asia or on the west coast docks. It's pretty sizable so this is something that we're aggressively looking at.” (:41)
GETTING U.S. BEEF THAT IS ALREADY ON THE WATER ACCEPTED BY FOREIGN CUSTOMERS IS A TOP PRIORITY. IN ADDITION, USMEF STAFF IN ITS OFFICES WORLDWIDE ARE ENGAGED IN A STRATEGIC, MULTI-FACETED ALL-OUT EFFORT TO RE-ESTABLISH EXPORT MARKETS FOR U.S. BEEF.
“Our staff has actually been very, very active. First of all, the Hegwood team that went to Japan and Korea we had our staff assisting them. What they did was they arranged for the major packer representatives to meet with the USDA delegations. The also arranged for major traders in the markets, and also users whether they be supermarkets or restaurants to meet with the delegation so they would have a first hand impression of what is actually going on in the market. (:24)
AND THERE’S MORE, WITH A FOCUSED USMEF PUBLIC RELATIONS AND EDUCATION EFFORT AIMED AT ADDRESSING BSE ISSUES AND CONCERNS AMONG FOREIGN CONSUMERS. FOR EXAMPLE, IN JAPAN:
“We've met weekly with the press to give briefings about a lot of the terminology and a lot of the developments that are going on in the USDA. We're doing, planning safety seminars in the various regions of these countries. We're doing a lot of work with the governments in these countries, because MEF's been in these markets for over 25 years and so we're doing a lot of work along those lines. A lot of educational work and a lot of work with the trade, giving them reassurances and information. Our websites for example have about 10 thousand hits in Japan alone a day. And a lot of this is all related to the BSE and those issues, so a lot of activity by MEF in the international markets.” (:43)
AND, IN JAPAN, SENG SAYS USMEF CONSUMER SURVEYS ARE DELIVERING SOME ENCOURAGING RESULTS.
“We've been doing telephone surveys and web surveys, we've conducted surveys in Japan both on the 29th and the 30th of December. We found out that the Japanese confidence levels in our product only varied by about 4 points in this period of time. Over 74 percent of the Japanese said they are still willing to consume U.S. product, which I think is quite high when you consider that our product is actually banned from going over there at this point in time.” (:28)
SOME ARE CONCERNED THAT RE-ESTABLISHING U.S. BEEF EXPORTS MAY TAKE MANY MONTHS. THE USMEF CEO SAYS THAT ALTHOUGH NO ONE CAN BE CERTAIN, THERE’S REASON TO BE A LITTLE MORE OPTIMISTIC.
“I think that that's on a varied basis, I mean we have Mexican officials that are here this week. We have certain markets where we'll be able to export to. As you know we can export to Canada and that's our fourth largest market. If we are making some progress with the Mexicans that would be basically our second largest market, so I think it depends what you talk about being open. But, we see you know after this initial shock of this whole thing and now as evidence becomes more clear, as we trace other cattle, as we institute further safety measures which are being done by the USDA, I sense the confidence level by these companies, and these regulatory authorities in these countries I think will go up and I think we can resume trade sooner than later.” (:45)
THE U.S. MEAT EXPORT FEDERATION IS THE TRADE ASSOCIATION RESPONSIBLE FOR DEVELOPING INTERNATIONAL MARKETS FOR THE U.S.RED MEAT INDUSTRY AND IS FUNDED BY USDA, EXPORTING COMPANIES, AND THE BEEF, PORK, CORN, SORGHUM AND SOYBEAN CHECKOFF PROGRAMS.