U.S./China Beef Trade

The Center for North American Studies has forecast China will not likely remain self-sufficient in meat production by the end of the decade. The country will need to import large amounts of fish, poultry and beef to meet its domestic needs. Pork production is expected to exceed consumption by about 9 million tons/year.

The center, located at Texas A&M University, predicts China's beef consumption is projected to exceed beef production by 59,000 tons this year, growing to 2,682,000 tons in 2010.

The passage of last year's Permanent Normal Trade Relations will allow China to become a larger market for U.S. beef producers. USDA trade experts predict growth in agricultural trade will triple to $3 billion by 2005 as a result of this agreement.

Under the terms of a 1999 pre-WTO accession agreement, China will reduce tariffs on agricultural products from 22% to 17.5%. For some “priority” agricultural products — including beef — tariffs will fall to 14%.

Presently, limitations within China's infrastructure and the lack of an efficient distribution system may limit meat consumption and imports into some parts of the country, according to Parr Rosson, director of the center.

Controlling E. coli

There are some promising new options for controlling E. coli 0157:H7 at the feedyard. Efforts to help control the pathogen through the food chain are being tested by scientists in Canada.

E. coli occurs naturally at the production level, so controlling it at this point may help to control it through the food cycle, says Tim McAllister, a lead researcher on E. coli at the Lethbridge (Alberta) Research Centre.

Management factors such as minimizing contamination through water troughs and feed bunks are critical because the organism can survive in those environments for several weeks or months.

In addition, composting or stockpiling manure prior to application may reduce the spread of E. coli to cattle, crops and water sources.

Bacteriophages, viruses that infect and ultimately destroy bacteria, are another control option. Bacteriophages have the ability to target a single organism and are not harmful to other “good” bacteria living in cattle intestines. As well, administering the viruses can be accomplished without changing cattle diets.

Other options being explored include the development of a vaccine that would reduce the colonization of E. coli in the intestines of cattle. Other studies include the use of probiotics, an approach that encourages the increased establishment of “good” bacteria, which ultimately helps prevent problem organisms such as E. coli from establishing in the intestinal tract.
Contact Tim McAllister, 403/317-2240.

Beef Stats

The top eleven countries in beef and veal production — averages for 1998-2000 — include:

  1. United States — 25% of world production
  2. Brazil — 12%
  3. China — 10%
  4. Argentina — 6%
  5. Australia — 4%
  6. Russian Federation — 4%
  7. Mexico — 4%
  8. India — 4%
  9. France — 3%
  10. Germany — 3%
  11. Canada — 3%
    Source: United States Department of Agriculture

Compiled by Clint Peck, BEEF Associate Editor. Contributions welcome: 406/896-9068, 406/896-9069 (fax), cpeck@intertec.com.