The Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA) said today that beef and cattle imports have hit record levels, displacing US cattle producers and, as a result, the US cattle herd is at or near its lowest size since 1951.
“We are concerned that the US Department of Agriculture is more focused upon facilitating imports – though claiming to promote exports – than helping rebuild the US cattle production industry,” said Michael Stumo, CEO of CPA. “US cattle prices are in a free fall even as Secretary Vilsack has reached agreement to relax health requirements to allow Brazil, the world’s number two beef producer, to ship beef to the US.”
Just last month the USDA overturned the longstanding ban on the import of raw Brazilian beef to the US market. The ban had been in place due to the country’s history of foot and mouth disease.
Cattle, beef and beef product imports have nearly doubled (from an average $3.05 billion per year to $6.04 billion per year) under the Vilsack Agriculture Department in relation to the Clinton years. The imports have increased by 33% in relation to the George W. Bush years ($4.5 billion per year average).
And this part is truly scary….
In late 2015, the US repealed its country of origin labeling law after Mexico and Canada successfully challenged it at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Beef packers and retailers can now import foreign beef, affix a USDA inspected seal on it, and consumers are misled into believing the beef is US born, raised and slaughtered. An import surge corresponded with the WTO decision.
While the trade deficits are the focus of the CPA announcement, that is a post for another day (perhaps a different blog too, though I do have opinions). The announcement also highlights all that is wrong with the commercial agricultural system. It is harmful to the producers in the form of low price/wage as well as the consumers, in the form of inferior products and higher prices.
I urge you to opt out of the industrial agricultural system that is detrimental to us all. Visit the farmers markets, meet the hard-working men and women farmers in your area. They are likely working a full-time job as well as tending the farm because they have a passion for good honest food. These are the people you trust, not the UDSA. Buy fresh and eat with the seasons. Fresh food tastes better, local food tastes better and is more diverse, and spending money in the community is better for the community.