U.S. Animal Protein Needs Trade Negotiators Back at the Table

By Brian Earnest

November 2021

Key Points

  • In the past two decades, U.S. animal protein exports have grown from $7.4 billion to $20.7 billion, driven by industry marketing and government trade negotiations. Today, trade accounts for 10%-30% of U.S. animal protein production, depending on industry segment.
  • The Trump administration’s harder line on trade, continued by the current administration, has led to mixed results for U.S. agriculture: Ag exports to China have flourished under the Phase One agreement, but the U.S. withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) cost U.S. exporters some opportunities.
  • From opening trade to Cuba to exporting broiler paws to China, diversification of markets and products is vital for a vibrant U.S. protein export trade.
  • Successful trade also depends on maintaining commitments with long-established partners, as seen with Mexico, Canada, Japan, and others.
  • Trade policy is crucial to building consistent export markets, and the U.S. needs to be at the negotiating table. The recent nomination of a chief agriculture negotiator with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is an important step forward but she has yet to be confirmed by the Senate.

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