The U.S. imported almost 2 million head of cattle in 2018
By Diego Flammini
President Trump wants officials within his administration to look into rescinding trade deals that require the U.S. to import cattle.
The president made the remarks at the White House on Tuesday while announcing US$19 billion in financial assistance for the ag sector to help it get through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I read (Monday) where we take some cattle in from other countries because we have trade deals. I think you should look into terminating those deals. All right?” he said to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue during the funding announcement. “We have trade deals where we actually take in cattle, and we have a lot of cattle in this country. And I think you should look at the possibility of terminating those trade deals.”
If a trading partner has been good for the U.S., the relationships should continue, he added.
The U.S. currently only imports cattle from its USMCA counterparts, Canada and Mexico.
In 2018, the United States imported almost 2 million head of cattle from its North American neighbors, USDA data says. Also, that year, Australia exported a single animal to the U.S.
The beef industry responded to the president’s remarks.
If President Trump wants to change beef imports, he should look at other countries before targeting Canada and Mexico.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) “and its members strongly request the White House to take another look at his (February) decision to allow fresh beef imports from nations like Brazil, where there continues to be concerns with foot-and-mouth disease and USDA’s decision to reopen the American market to Brazilian beef,” Colin Woodall, CEO of the NCBA, said in a statement Tuesday.
President Trump’s comments even garnered a response from the Canadian beef industry.
The two countries rely on open trade to ensure farmers on both sides of the border are profitable, said Bob Lowe, president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.
“There is no doubt that we have an integral trade relationship with the United States – we are excellent trade partners – in fact, we have the largest two-way beef trade in the world, and it continues to be mutually beneficial,” he said in a statement Tuesday.
President Trump's comments on cattle imports begin around the 5:40 mark of the video.