28 September 2016 - Let’s Look Back at History

This week, a little bit of history on Samuelson Sez - I take you back 13 years, to the year 2003, the week before Christmas of that year, when in Washington State we discovered a cow with Mad Cow Disease. It was called ‘the cow that killed Christmas’ because it did have a major impact on the cattle market and beef industry in the United States as well as other countries, because nations around the world quickly shut their borders to imports of American beef to keep the threat of Mad Cow Disease out of their cattle herds .

In the passing years, most of those countries, if not all, have lifted that ban but there has been one exception - China. But finally, after 13 years China has decided that beef over 30 months of age, produced in America, is no longer a carrier of the disease and is not a threat to the cattle industry in China. The news that China will now open its border was welcomed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, U.S. meat exporters and the U. S. Department of Agriculture. It won’t happen overnight because now we will wait while China and the U.S.D.A hammer out the proper wording and protocol for the agreement, some say that could take a year.

Actually what also happened over the past 13 years, I think, is something many countries do to protect their own agricultural producers. They set up artificial trade barriers based on their concerns over disease, sanitation, production methods and other situations they say would be dangerous to their citizens. One dramatic example of that happened several years ago when Russia said it would have to inspect U.S. poultry processing plants in our country before they would accept poultry from those plants. Well, I have visited three Russian meat processing plants in my lifetime and after witnessing their sanitation practices, I stopped eating hot dogs and sausages during my visits to that country.

This is also another reason why I think we need trade agreements.
They won’t resolve the problems totally and they certainly won’t correct problems overnight, but at least trade agreements give us some language and rules to play by.

It is something that deserves a lot more of our attention as we listen to the trade agreement debate by the two Presidential candidates who so far have shown me they don’t recognize the importance of trade to the U.S. economy, and especially to American agricultural producers. They have a lot to learn and I hope they listen to their agricultural advisors. I also hope you will let them know.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.