In The Cattle Markets: Tariffs and Beef Trade

Wherever you get your news, you likely couldn’t avoid hearing a particular T word last week: tariffs. On the heels of the announcement that the U.S. will impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports, many prognosticators were taking sides on the impact the tariffs would have on businesses and consumers. Don’t worry, this article is not about metals and I’m no forecaster of those industries. However, tariffs are something that those in the beef industry have been talking about for a long time. Also released last week were the latest monthly U.S. beef trade data that show continued impressive growth of U.S. beef exports. So while we have a tariff example fresh in the news and a report of strong beef exports, perhaps it’s a good time to touch on some of the tariffs facing U.S. beef entering other countries. Beef exports were up 9 percent on a tonnage basis and 21 percent in value year-over-year during January 2018 according to a recent report by USMEF and data from USDA. These are impressive totals, especially since January 2017 had relatively large export totals, too. Exports to Asian markets continue to be strong for U.S. beef. However, this strength is certainly influenced by tariffs both in absolute terms and in relation to lower tariffs faced by other exporting countries. A quick, simplified, definition of a tariff is that it is a tax on foreign goods to enter a country. Using the U.S.…

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