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U.S., China accelerate beef talks, deal possible by early June

Staff Writer |
Talks on restarting U.S. beef exports to China are moving fast and final details should be in place by early June, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said, allowing American farmers to vie for business that has been lost by rival Brazil.

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As part of a trade deal, U.S. ranchers are set to face tests over the use of growth-promoting drugs to raise cattle destined for export to China and to log the animals' movements, according to the USDA.

The two sides are negotiating to meet a deadline, set under a broader trade deal last week, for shipments to begin by mid-July.

Finalizing technical details in early June should mean beef companies such as Tyson Foods Inc and Cargill Inc can sign contracts with Chinese buyers to meet the deadline, the USDA said.

China banned U.S. beef in 2003 after a U.S. scare over mad cow disease. Previous attempts by Washington to reopen the world's fastest-growing beef market have fizzled out. But now, the quick progress of the latest talks is raising hopes of U.S. farmers.

"Both sides feel the urgency to get it done by the deadline," said Joe Schuele, spokesman for the U.S. Meat Export Federation, which represents Tyson, Cargill and other meat companies.

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