Hormone-Free Beef Certification Proves Too Expensive for U.S. Producers

In 1989, the European Union banned imports of beef treated with growth-promoting hormones. Suddenly, a large market for U.S. variety meats and a niche market for U.S. non-treated beef had all but disappeared. In an effort to recapture lost market share, many U.S. producers hastened to adopt the European Union's stringent guidelines for producing, harvesting, and certifying non-hormone treated beef. But, according to a report of the Midwest Agribusiness Trade Research and Information Center (MATRIC) at Iowa State University, the producers' efforts have gone largely unrewarded. In general, the added costs of producing and certifying non-treated beef have made U.S. product too expensive to export, say the report's authors. And while some producers have been able to sell their non-treated beef in the domestic natural beef market, they have received little in the way of a premium to cover their extra costs as compared to producers who verify their "natural" beef in less-expensive ways. Although U.S. retaliation to the hormone ban was hoped to even the field by blocking some E.U. agricultural imports, the researchers say U.S. beef stands to lose even more trade potential as more countries accede to the European Union and adopt the ban. The full text of the report is available at www.matric.iastate.edu/publications.aspx. Contact Roxanne Clemens, MATRIC Director, (515) 294-8842, or Sandy Clarke, Communications, (515) 294-6257.

(Released December 2002)