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AMI Says Future Growth in the U.S. Livestock and Meat Sector linked to Opening and Expanding Export Markets

Thursday, February 26, 1998

With slow population growth in the U.S., relative to most developing nations, future growth in the U.S. livestock and meat sector is linked to our ability to open and expand export markets for meat products, according to AMI Vice President for International Trade Leonard Condon. Condon made his remarks in testimony before the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry.

The hearing was called to examine the status and prospects for meat and poultry trade with Australia and New Zealand. According to Condon, we import more beef than any other country and we are challenging Australia for the position of the world’s largest exporter of beef. We also are pursuing new opportunities for exporting pork and poultry to New Zealand and Australia.

“Because we are now in the unusual position of being both a large importer and a large exporter of meat, we encounter Australia and New Zealand both as suppliers to our market and fierce competitors in the markets we supply,” Condon said.

Despite the sometimes fierce competition, Condon said that the three nations have stood together in supporting liberalization of agricultural trade on a global basis. All three nations also supported inclusion of language related to “equivalence” of inspection systems in major trade agreements.

While the U.S. is a “plaintiff” against the European Union on some meat inspection equivalence issues, Condon called the U.S. a “defendant” in Australia’s Project 2 initiative, which seeks U.S. acceptance of products inspected under an innovative system that turns many inspection functions over to plant employees. The U.S. so far has attached a number of conditions to this acceptance.

“The important point is that, as a major exporter and importer of meat, the United States is in a unique position and has interested in requesting and granting equivalence determinations,” he said. “If we want other countries to respond reasonably and expeditiously when we request that our inspection measures be considered equivalent, it is important for us to respond to requests made to us in a reasonable and expeditious manner.”

Finally, Condon said that three major groups were instrumental in supporting liberalization of agricultural trade during the Uruguay round negotiations: the U.S., the EU and the Cairns group -- an alliance of 13 countries that includes Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Brazil and a host of Asian nations -- named after the Australian city in which the group first met in 1986.

“The danger we currently face is that if the Congress does not provide ‘fast track’ authority to the Administration, the United States will be unable to constructively participate in the next round of multilateral trade negotiations which are scheduled to start in 1999,” he said. “Those negotiations will once again refer to a two-party discussion, only this time it will be the Cairn Group and the European Union. There is no reason to expect …results on agriculture any more ambitious that those produced in the seven rounds of multilateral trade negotiations which preceded the Uruguay Round.”

AMI represents the interests of packers and processors of beef, pork, lamb, veal and turkey products and their suppliers throughout North America. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute provides legislative, regulatory and public relations services, conducts scientific and economic research, offers marketing and technical assistance and sponsors education programs.

For more information contact:
Janet Riley
Vice President, Public Affairs
James Ratchford
Manager, Public Affairs

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