The U.S. negotiating team has returned from China without a final agreement on trade resumption. The trade news from South Korea this week also was disappointing, as it likely will now be July before trade in U.S. beef can get started. Japan's announcement on U.S. beef is expected shortly but a positive result will require time to actually get product in motion.

Meanwhile, the Australian beef industry is bracing for a defense of its Pacific Rim market share, the share it captured in the absence of U.S. and Canadian product banned as a result of BSE. As part of that defense effort, Australia is moving full steam ahead in developing its national livestock ID program.

Not surprisingly, there's a lot of opposition in Australia to such a program. That, however, has been par for the course in every country during the difficult transition phase toward such a system, when glitches are inevitable.

One person suggested to me that, because BSE has forever altered the market, the world beef industry begin to categorize any debate as we do our calendar. Except that, instead of BC or AD, we tag the years before BSE as "BBSE" (before BSE) and the years after as ABSE (after BSE).
-- Troy Marshall