More on Where’s the beef?

Fear and Loathing in Waynesboro column by Chris Graham

Maybe this is an attempt on my part to prove that I do my homework, most of the time, on the stories that I write. I’ll warn you about that up front.

I’ve been communicating with another beef-export expert about the status of activities related to the export of U.S. beef to China, and I’m learning that not only is the China market currently closed to U.S. beef producers, it’s not looking like anything is going to change there anytime soon.

“The issue remains tied up due to poultry-related complications and the general lack of movement as the current administration comes to a close. No action anticipated in the near future,” U.S. Meat Export Federation vice president Jim Herlihy wrote me in an e-mail yesterday.

I had already written this piece on the U.S.-China beef issue quoting Gregg Doud, the chief economist at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, about the tiff involving beef when I got this confirmatory word from Herlihy.

The “poultry-related complications” that Herlihy referred to involve a Connecticut congressman, Rose DeLauro, who has been leading the effort to block the entry of Chinese poultry into the U.S., citing food-safety concerns. According to Doud, China has tied U.S. movement on the poultry issue to its willingness to reopen its markets to U.S. beef.

This international issue has become a Waynesboro issue in light of claims made by Tom Sikes, the director of global logistics at Reo Distribution, that the distribution company is efforting to establish a processing center that would export Augusta County beef to China.

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