Iowa farmers are facing a roadblock to exports of beef to Europe, and there may not be any break in sight. Roxanne Clemens is director of MATRIC, the Midwest Agribusiness Trade Research and Information Center. Clemens says growth hormones routinely used in beef cattle are banned by the European Union, but it’s tough to certify beef hormone-free.The certification process is very rigorous, she explains, and the USDA program requires “full traceability” from the birth of a calf until the time it goes through the packing plant. And, it costs far more to get that beef certified hormone-free for the European market than it would for domestic sales. The FDA has determined hormone-treated beef is safe so there is no rigorous inspection process in place, and for American sales of hormone-free beef the process is simple and far less expensive than what they must do for export-ready hormone-free beef. Clemens says things aren’t likely to improve for Iowa beef exporters, with ten more nations ready to adopt the strict rules of the European Union.If they adopt those policies, she says we’ll lose most of those markets because meat they’re already buying from other nations is less expensive despite the stringent rules. Clemens says that combination may be too high a barrier for Iowa beef producers to hurdle for now.
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