The TPA passed the Senate in June with a vote of 60-38, and a critical trade agreement with the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) may now be fully negotiated and finalized.

The TPP is an arrangement that includes 12 countries along the Pacific Rim, including Japan, which is the number one beef-trading partner of the U.S. In 2014 the U.S. exported a record-breaking $7.15 billion of beef; $1.6 billion was to Japan alone. The other three main countries are South Korea, Canada and Mexico.

According to Kevin Kester, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association policy division chairman and fifth-generation California cattle rancher, the TPP will reduce the high tariffs (38.5 percent) U.S. is facing in Japan.

“Once the TPP is signed, it resets tariffs and the 12 countries participating in the TPP will all be the same,” Kester says. “That’s huge because right now Australia has a huge advantage in Japan.”

Australia is only facing a 28.5 percent tariff in Japan due to a previous bilateral agreement. The TPP will generate a more even playing field.


“The more we can increase our exports, the more dollars I get to keep in my pocket,” Kester says. “It’s a lot of money going back to those of us on the ranches and farms.”

David Anderson, professor and extension economist at Texas A&M University, says that passing the TPA is the only logical way to make a deal with other countries.

“The other side is going to want to know that anything they give up or they agree to won’t be taken out or changed once we shake hands on the deal,” Anderson says. “If we can reduce trade barriers, we can expand our market and we can grow the value of our beef.”

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) is a trade agreement between the U.S. and the European Union. It’s not as advanced as the TPP, and it will continue to be negotiated into the next year, according to U.S. Meat Export Federation Vice President of Communications Joe Schuele.

“These agreements are very important in making U.S. beef available and affordable to international customers,” Schuele says.

According to Anderson, since the U.S. is constantly producing quality beef, it has an advantage when exporting to different countries. Cultural diversity presents a demand for different cuts of beef, and the U.S. is able to cater to those different needs.

“If you want to buy container after container of ribeyes, where else are you going to get them but from us?” Anderson says.

Anderson pointed out that the U.S. exports a lot of beef variety meats that the average citizen doesn’t eat (tongue, liver, kidneys) and is preferred in other countries. High-quality muscle cuts are saved and utilized in the U.S.

“Typically, in agriculture, we think that expanding export markets are a good thing for prices,” Anderson says. “It’s all about growing the industry.”  end mark