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U.S. and China reopen beef trade agreement

Nebraska cattle ranchers tending to cattle. (NTV)

China is beefing up trade with the U.S. by resuming beef imports.

The trade agreement brings access to the estimated $2.6 billion market for the U.S. beef industry, and Nebraska cattlemen could get a big piece of that.

It has been almost 14 years since U.S. beef was sold in China, after that country shut out American beef due to a single case of BSE.

The announcement by the Trump administration will allow Nebraska’s beef industry, which is first in the nation’s red meat producers, to have an opportunity to tap into China's huge industry.

"Now we will just bolster that effort via the U.S. Meat Export Federation, and very likely the Nebraska Department of Agriculture as well. So Nebraska checkoff dollars are going to go toward helping market our beef, right here, into the Chinese market," Dawn Caldwell, a Nebraska cattle rancher, said.

Last November, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association met with China to demonstrate the quality of the cattle available.

Caldwell, who is also an NCBA Vice Chair, said since the Chinese buy many cuts of beef that Americans don't use, so adding carcass value.

"They really like those different cuts that we don't use so much here. That makes it great for marketing purposes when its products that don't have as high of a demand in the U.S. It doesn't impact our domestic market as much, but at the same time, it increases the value of that carcass for all of us beef producers," Caldwell said.

Greg Ibach, director of Nebraska Department of Agriculture, says although this is great for agriculture in the U.S., he wants to ensure Nebraska producers get their fair share as well.

"This will bring some optimism into the beef industry. I also hope it has a ripple effect and brings optimism into corn and soybean prices as well as strengthens all red meats around it," Ibach said.

Ibach said the state has already taken steps, in anticipation of this announcement, and is ready to act to make sure the Beef State is well represented in China.

According to the Trump Administration, there is still one more technicality that has to be consulted on.

U.S. beef is expected to be in China by July 16, 2017.

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