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Bush Administration Cautioned on Cutting Beef Deal

Friday, June 8, 2001

Washington, DC - The Bush Administration should not strike any deal with the European Union (EU) that would require U.S. beef exporters to comply with the EU’s unjustifiable ban on imports of beef from animals treated with FDA-approved growth-promoting hormones, according to a letter the American Meat Institute sent this week to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The letter was prompted by signals from Administration officials that they are re-opening talks with the EU to “resolve” the EU’s longstanding and illegal ban on U.S. beef.

An option being considered is that the EU would "compensate" the U.S. beef industry by creating an import quota for beef from untreated cattle. U.S. beef exporters are warning of their opposition to such an outcome

“U.S. capitulation on the principle central to this case could have major negative implications for U.S. beef shipments to other markets and would set a dangerous trade policy precedent,” said AMI Senior Vice President for Regulatory Affairs and General Counsel Mark Dopp. According to Dopp, only one U.S. plant ships a very limited amount of beef to the EU market each year – the equivalent of one afternoon’s production at a typical large packing plant. EU requirements for producing and processing beef not treated with hormones have driven costs to the point where virtually all potential U.S. exporters have given up.

“As the American Farm Bureau Federation has so aptly pointed out in a recent article, no producer is willing to undertake the economic risk of raising hormone-free cattle when European markets for it are so tenuous,” Dopp said. “We must hold firm on the principle that this ban is illegal and should be rescinded. To do otherwise would potentially harm the entire beef production chain.”

The AMI letter also noted that Congress last year enacted a “carousel” retaliation law against the EU, which would rotate retaliatory tariffs throughout European nations in hopes of pressuring compliance. While the law has been in effect for a year, it has not been enforced. AMI urged immediate enforcement of the law.

A copy of AMI’s letter is available on http://www.meatinstitute.org.

For more information contact:
Janet Riley
Vice President, Public Affairs
Josee Daoust
Manager, Public Affairs

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