Iowa-based beef plant ready to export to China, seeking more partners for expansion

Source:Xinhua-Global Times Published: 2017/6/26 17:43:39

In the heartland of Iowa lies a small town named Tama. Of the town's small population of 2,830, over 800 work in the Iowa Premium Beef processing plant.

The plant reached a landmark moment when it recently applied to export beef to China. It is now busy preparing documents requested by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) as well as by the equivalent agency in China.

US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed in April to advance China-US economic cooperation with a 100-day action plan. After intensive negotiations and as the first results from the 100-day plan were revealed in May, China agreed to reopen its market to US beef no later than July 16, with conditions consistent with international food safety and animal health standards.

China banned US beef import in 2003 amid concerns over mad cow disease.

"They [the requirements] are now achievable," Mikel Gager, Iowa Premium Beef's food safety manager, told Xinhua.

"At this point, our future depends on the approval process, that is, whether our facility can be approved by the USDA and then its Chinese counterpart. If we get the double approval, our company will be on the approved plants list which means we can then begin packaging, processing and shipping our beef deliveries to China," Gager said.

There are eight supervisors of the USDA stationed in the plant, supervising the whole production line's process every day.

 After being asked if USDA supervisors may simply ignore minor factory irregularities during the inspection process due to already forming friendships with plant workers, Gager shrugged and said "they will lose their jobs."

Covering an area of 200,000 square feet, Iowa Premium Beef currently processes 1,150 head of cattle per day and manages five or six production days each week.

When asked about the specific requirements of exported beef to China, Gager said that the cattle need to have been born in the US and have never been fed any growth hormones.

If they are imported into the US, there is a full traceability system for those cattle, Gager assured.

Iowa Premium Beef said it is already in the process of networking with more companies in China in order to expand their business across the country.


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