The National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the North American Meat Export Federation last week issued a letter to U.S. Trade Ambassador Michael Froman and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack indicating intentions to implement a beef traceability system for exports to China.
The system will provide the basis for the U.S. government to certify animals that meet China’s requirement for traceability from farm to birth, and will roll in existing animal ID programs.
The program must be voluntary for the entire beef industry to agree to such a program, with the understanding that only beef from cattle that are covered by the system will be certified for export to China.
The groups said the system also should be auditable and "anticipate that it will include current and future programs that could be developed and managed by private companies under verification programs like the Process Verified Program managed by the Agricultural Marketing System of the USDA."
Information collected through the program would be provided to USDA APHIS in the event of an animal health incident.
"Exports are a critical component of the continued profitability of the beef industry and make a significant contribution to the positive balance of trade that the United States enjoys in food and agricultural products," the groups wrote. "Despite our success at expanding exports, the foreign market with the greatest growth potential –China –remains closed to U.S. beef and beef products. We look forward to working with you to restore access to China and we appreciate your consideration of these ideas."