USMEF releases livestock ID/traceability economic assessment

Sep 30, 2011
by WLJ

A study assessing the impact of traceability and animal identification programs on the international market for red meat was released by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Conducted by researchers at Kansas State University, Colorado State University and Montana State University, the study assesses the potential impact on U.S. producers and processors of evolving thinking about animal ID and traceability in leading export markets and traceability systems that have already been put in place by other major beef and pork exporting countries.

The study points out that the U.S. and India are the only two major beef exporters that do not already have mandatory traceability systems. Argentina, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Uruguay all have animal identification/traceability programs in place.

In addition to the traceability systems of exporting nations, the report, which was commissioned by US- MEF on a contract awarded based on a request for proposal, provides an analysis of the domestic cattle traceability systems employed by selected major importers of U.S. beef. Of special note, Japan and Korea, among the highest value markets for U.S. red meat exports, have adopted mandatory traceability programs which could eventually lead to similar requirements being applied to imports.

Finally, the report compares the sanitary and phytosanitary restrictions imposed on the major beef exporters by the top importing countries. For some exporting nations, such as Australia and New Zealand, there are no restrictions imposed by trading partners.

The report notes that competing beef exporting nations are using their industries’ mandatory traceability systems as marketing tools to enhance their sales and as a point of differentiation with the U.S. industry.

While market access and producer profitability have been important factors in exporting countries’ decisions to establish traceability systems, the report concludes that animal health management and food safety are the primary drivers behind most countries’ decisions to build animal ID and traceability into the regulatory frameworks for their livestock industries.

“Countries with well-developed mandatory animal identification and traceability programs enjoy comparative advantages in red meat exports relative to countries without such systems,” according to the report. “They are better positioned to respond quickly to crisis situations and mitigate potential damages.”

Funding for the research report was provided by the USDA Market Access Program. — WLJ