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Trump floats halt to U.S. cattle imports as pandemic hurts ranchers

Commodities May 19, 2020 16:30
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Brahman cattle are seen on a ranch in Hungerford, Texas

By Steve Holland and Tom Polansek

WASHINGTON/CHICAGO (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Tuesday the United States should consider terminating trade deals under which it imports cattle as the federal government moves to help farmers hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

The United States imports cattle from Mexico and Canada to supplement domestic supplies at lower prices and to slaughter in American plants run by companies like Tyson Foods Inc (N:TSN) and JBS USA [JBS.UL]. Bans could reignite trade disputes.

"I read yesterday where we take some cattle in from other countries. We have trade deals. I think you should look at terminating those deals," Trump said. "We have a lot of cattle in this country."

Trump made the comments at a White House event held to discuss $19 billion in coronavirus relief approved by Congress to help farmers. He did not mention specific trade deals or countries when talking about cattle.

Live cattle imports come only from Mexico and Canada and are allowed under the terms of Trump's newly negotiated U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade pact, according to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

A ban could increase competition for U.S. beef exports if Mexico and Canada keep more cattle at home and process them, said Derrell Peel, livestock marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University.

"Obviously, if we just ban Mexican and Canadian cattle, they're not going to take that kindly," Peel said.

Mexico ships more than 1 million cows across the border annually and is increasing beef exports to the United States after the pandemic hobbled American meat plants.

Last year, Mexico was the third biggest foreign beef supplier to the United States, behind Australia and Canada. Canada had no immediate comment. Mexico's agriculture ministry and national farm council did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Separately, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the Trump administration will provide aid to ranchers who are euthanizing livestock after the pandemic shut slaughterhouses.

Trump floats halt to U.S. cattle imports as pandemic hurts ranchers
 

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Comments (1)
Ed Crain
Ed Crain May 20, 2020 1:03
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58220 Americans died in the Vietnam war over 20 years under four presidents. 93533 Americans died of Covid-19 in three months under Donald Trump. Can't say that Trump isn't efficient! Despite the increased defence spending, Trump could not defend the US from his 2020 Covid-19 Vietnam War. Instead he surrendered to this enemy blaming the rest of the world for his incompetence, and putting all Americans in danger, as well as Canada. Looks like the bleach has gotten to his head.
 
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