Discussions about beef imports were put in the spotlight this week. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) agrees the industry should have a conversation about beef imports and where we’re sourcing beef, but it’s important that the conversation be rooted in facts, not back of the envelope estimates using data from nearly a decade prior.
In response to R-CALF’s May 22, press release on trade levels, NCBA would suggest that it’s important that any reasonable discussion on trade include the most recent information available. Global beef trade is dynamic and trade levels rise and fall based on factors such as changes in currency valuation, areas of drought or moisture, global consumer demand, and many other variables, so utilizing old trade data is just the latest demonstration of R-CALF’s willingness to cherry-pick the facts to drive their agendas.
Current USDA data available here, projects current U.S. beef import numbers for 2020 at 1.334 million metric tons, while domestic consumption is estimated at 12.389 million metric tons, amounting to imports totaling 11 percent of U.S. beef consumption during 2020. In 2019, the most current full-year data available shows imports of 1.387 million metric tons, versus consumption of 12.407 million metric tons, with U.S. imports again totaling 11 percent of total consumption.