WASHINGTON (FNS) -- Argentina can start exporting fresh beef to the United States as soon as next month.
e the federal government lifted a 68-year ban against imports of Argentine beef, after deciding that country had eliminated foot-and-mouth disease from its cattle.
Exports can enter the United States starting Aug. 25, with an annual quota of 20,000 metric tons (one metric ton equals 2,204.62 pounds) of fresh, chilled or frozen meat a year according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A pound of meat is roughly equivalent to about 2.5 steaks.
The quality of Argentinian beef is well known. It is expected that the initially limited quantities entering the United States will be directed to the high-end restaurant trade, said a spokeswoman for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Englewood, Colo.
The quota for Argentine meat is so small that it equals only about one-half of one day's production in the U.S. meat industry, the spokeswoman said.
Argentina has been lobbying the United States for years to lift its fresh meat ban and became successful in finally convincing authorities during negotiations of the GATT Uruguay Round three years ago. The country is already allowed to export processed and frozen beef.
"The importation of Argentine meat will be very interesting. It's something everyone in the food marketing industry is watching," the spokeswoman said.
The United States now receives exports from Canada, Australia and New Zealand, amounting to 20,720 pounds last year.