Hormoned beef exports will be key

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The proposed free trade agreement between the US and Europe should allow for the export of hormone treated beef from America to Europe, according to Nebraska-based farm broadcaster and farmer Trent Loos.

“I am all for free trade in both directions,” he said.

“And this should mean that all the beef produced in the United States is potentially eligible for export to the EU. Approximately 95% of the beef cattle reared in America are finished in feed lots. The vast majority of these animals are treated with hormones. And there is absolutely no consumer concern regarding these management practises.”

Loos owns a herd of Angus cross suckler cows, which are crossed with Limousin bulls.

“It’s a spring calving operation with the weanlings sold on in the autumn,” he said.

Loos believes there is a market for Irish beef in the US, particularly in the cities along the Atlantic seaboard.

He said that beef finishers in the US are currently receiving the equivalent of €4.95/kg deadweight for their cattle.

“At these sorts of prices there should be a margin for Irish beef exporters looking to get into the US market. There is a relatively small demand for grass fed beef in this country. And this is the sector of the market, which Irish food businesses should target.

“The vast bulk of the beef imported into the US at the present time is coming from Australia with live cattle shipped in from Canada. Total beef imports into the US at the present time equate to Ireland’s entire national output.

“The US beef market is driven by taste. And while there is a growing awareness of grass fed beef, the reality is that most consumers in America prefer the meat produced from corn fed animals. And this will not change in the near future.”