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U.S. beef exports continue to outperform pre-BSE levels

Staff Writer |
Following the discovery of a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in December 2003, U.S. beef and beef product exports fell.

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Since 2003, USDA has led a multi-agency, full-court press, dedicating significant resources to restore foreign market access for U.S. beef. As a result, U.S. beef shipments had regained pre-BSE volumes by 2011 and even reached record values by 2014.

Another central element of the U.S. strategy to maintain and expand foreign market access is insistence on policies that are based on the guidelines of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

The past seven years have represented the strongest period in history for American agricultural exports, with international sales of U.S. farm and food products surpassing $1 trillion between fiscal years 2009 and the present.

In FY 2003, U.S. beef exports (excluding beef products) totaled $3.0 billion (0.9 million tons) to 112 countries. As a result of the December 2003 BSE case, U.S. beef exports fell to $1.1 billion (0.3 million tons) in FY 2004.

In spite of some remaining restrictions, which USDA continues to prioritize, U.S. beef exports have recovered to pre-2003 levels. In FY 2015, U.S. beef exports totaled $5.8 billion (0.8 million tons) to 112 countries.

In 2015, U.S. beef production fell to the lowest level since 1993. A strong dollar has also dampened foreign demand for U.S. beef. These factors have contributed to recent volume declines in U.S. beef exports but longer-term forecasts are positive.

Expanding production and declining wholesale beef prices will drive shipments higher, but a strong dollar remains a constraint. Global beef demand is expected to strengthen along with a pickup in global economic growth.

U.S. beef exports are forecast to rise to $5.3 billion (0.8 million tons) in FY 2017, up from $5.2 billion in FY 2016, with additional gains in sales of beef products expected as well. This is well above the value of 2003 exports and marginally below on volume.


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