Colorado Farm Show speaker: Demand for beef exceeds supply; U.S. must respond | TheFencePost.com

Colorado Farm Show speaker: Demand for beef exceeds supply; U.S. must respond

Bill Jackson
Greeley, Colo.

The demand for beef is exceeding the supply, and the United States is one of few areas in the world that can expand the supply.

That was the word during the first day of the 2011 Colorado Farm Show from Dale Woerner, a professor with Colorado State University’s Center for Meat Safety and Quality, one of five Beef Day speakers who addressed an overflow crowd at the Events Center in Island Grove Regional Park.

While the demand for beef has dropped drastically in the U.S. since Dec. 23, 2003, when the first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy – mad cow disease – was reported, that demand is growing steadily as the worldwide economy improves, particularly in such countries as China and India, Woerner said.

The U.S., he said, lost beef export markets due to BSE as several countries set up trade barriers.

“From the period of 2004-2010, the U.S. lost $8 billion – $70 million a month – from a drop of beef exports to Japan alone,” Woerner said. At the same time, $4.7 billion was lost in Korea and lesser amounts were realized in other countries.

But as the world’s population continues to increase, and countries such as China and India are developing stronger economies, the demand for beef increases, faster, in most cases, than the demand in the U.S. The world population has grown from about 3 billion in 1960 to an anticipated 8 billion by 2030, Woerner added.

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At the same time, there is not enough land in Asia, Africa or Europe to increase herd sizes to improve the supply of beef, leaving North America, in particular the U.S. and Canada, and to a certain extent India to meet the demand. Countries such as Brazil have drastically increased beef consumption in the past few years and at the same time increased exports, but the European Union, Woerner said, “is now a net importer of beef. It can no longer produce enough beef to feed its own people.”

The U.S., he said, must abide by label use regulations for antibiotics, as well as for growth promoters, and for that reason the nation’s beef quality assurance program will become even more important. It is designed to assure consumers there is no residue from any of those products. There will always be concerns with food safety, Woerner added.

Adding to that is the fact that the U.S., he said, is criticized for its use of high technology in beef production, and improvements in that technology, particularly in the area of genetics, continues.

“We can’t keep up with global demand without high technology,” Woerner said.