For Immediate Release
Burt Rutherford at TCFA
Trying to predict the future for
That effort began immediately after the December 2003 BSE announcement. "In early January, USMEF put into place a crisis management plan to respond to inquiries, develop strategies to reassure a number of audiences ranging from consumers to government decision-makers, support efforts to reopen markets and, once these things were accomplished, to begin the process of recovering market share," Smith said.
In addition, the beef industry worked with an international PR firm
to roll out the message in
These and many other efforts continue as the beef industry works to
bolster consumer confidence worldwide in
December 2003 announcement of BSE in the
much-heralded framework for reopening the
USMEF's annual meeting in
words, he said,
In short, Smith said, there is a lot of work still to do.
accepting the challenge, working both in markets where the
so hard to reopen international markets?
Smith said a quick look at history gives an answer.
"Beef exports in 2003 amounted to nearly 1.3 million metric tons.
That's 2.8 billion pounds for those of us still working with the
Cattle-FAX estimates that cattle feeders could have done far better this year had exports continued uninterrupted, he said. "Cattle-FAX estimates the economic loss to feeders to be $9.50 to $10 per hundred as the result of beef export losses; another $3 to $4 because we aren't selling variety meats internationally; and another 50¢ to $1 because of interruptions in other bovine exports. Add it up and the market closing hit us in the pocketbook to the tune of $13 to $15 per hundred, or $165 to $190 per head. In other words, a good year could have been a really great year."
Looking to the future, Smith said it's difficult to make any accurate predictions. "As incredibly small as the risk is of having infected animals in the human food supply or of contracting the human disease from the beef we eat, BSE remains the single most challenging trade issue confronting this country, and other beef exporting countries, for that matter," he told cattle feeders.
However, there are positive signals that ultimately, trade will begin to return to normal. But it won't be easy.
"The next year or two will be especially challenging to USMEF and those of us who believe in the value of exporting beef," he said. "We will be asked to reintroduce a product with a great track record for taste and safety whose reputation has been tainted in the minds of many international consumers. We will have to explain the science, we will have to build the case for product safety and we will have to resurrect consumer confidence in our product." That, he said, will take time and money. Fortunately, the infrastructure is in place through 13 USMEF offices around the world.
struggle won't be easy and exports won't just bounce back to $3 or $4
billion dollars," Smith said. "You
can be assured, however, that USMEF will do its part to put