WASHINGTON — A study assessing the impact of traceability and animal identification programs on the international market for red meat has been released by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
Conducted by researchers at Kansas State University, Colorado State University and Montana State University, the study points out that the United States and India are the only two major beef exporters that do not have mandatory traceability systems.
Argentina, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Uruguay all have animal identification/traceability programs in place.
In addition to the traceability systems of exporting nations, the report, which was commissioned by USMEF, provides an analysis of the domestic cattle traceability systems employed by selected major importers of U.S. beef.
Of special note, Japan and Korea, among the highest value markets for U.S. red meat exports, have adopted mandatory traceability programs that could eventually lead to similar requirements being applied to imports.
Finally, the report compares the sanitary and phytosanitary restrictions imposed on the major beef exporters by the top importing countries.
For some exporting nations, such as Australia and New Zealand, there are no restrictions imposed by trading partners. Brazil and Argentina face FMD (foot and mouth disease)-related restrictions and traceability systems are critical for exports from these South American countries which are not entirely free of FMD.
The United States faces BSE-related product and age restrictions from a number of major importing countries (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Russia and Mexico) as well as restrictions from the European Union based on hormone use.
In addition, China’s beef market remains closed to imports from the United States due to BSE-related restrictions.
The report notes that competing beef exporting nations are using their industries’ mandatory traceability systems as marketing tools to enhance their sales and as a point of differentiation with the U.S. industry.
While market access and producer profitability have been important factors in exporting countries’ decisions to establish traceability systems, the report concludes that animal health management and food safety are the primary drivers behind most countries’ decisions to build animal ID and traceability into the regulatory frameworks for their livestock industries.
“As more countries adopt animal and meat tracking systems, those early adopters of livestock and meat traceability systems have the opportunity to gain significant market advantages through increased consumer confidence,” the report states.
“Countries with well-developed mandatory animal identification and traceability programs enjoy comparative advantages in red meat exports relative to countries without such systems,” the researchers add. “They are better positioned to respond quickly to crisis situations and mitigate potential damages.”
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