Why Can’t U.S. Beef Compete in the European Union?

Roxanne Clemens, Bruce A. Babcock
November 2002  [02-MBP 4]

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Suggested citation:

Clemens, R. and B.A. Babcock. 2002. "Why Can’t U.S. Beef Compete in the European Union?" MATRIC briefing paper 02-MBP 4. Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University.


The stringent guidelines for producing, harvesting, and shipping certified non-hormone treated beef for the European Union create additional costs that greatly reduce the competitiveness of U.S. beef. What had once been a large market for beef variety meats and then a niche market for non-treated beef has all but vanished because the E.U. hormone ban and regulations for producing and certifying non-treated beef have made U.S. product too expensive to export. Some producers continue to obtain U.S. Department of Agriculture certification for their non-hormone treated beef, but most are selling their fully traceable, certified cattle into the domestic natural beef market at no additional premium compared with cattle verified as non-treated via a producer-signed affidavit. As an international trade issue, the beef hormone ban (and U.S. retaliation) continues to play a role in policy decisions and trade negotiations. As more countries negotiate accession to the European Union, for example, the United States stands to lose additional trade potential. In addition, although retaliation appears to be blocking trade at about the appropriate level, some E.U. countries may actually be benefiting from the retaliatory duties applied to some agricultural products based on country of origin.

Keywords: beef hormone ban, E.U. enlargement, natural beef, NHTC program, non-hormone treated beef, retaliatory tariffs, traceability.