China deal “beefs” up bottom line for Scott County farmers

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DAVENPORT -- A new deal to sell U.S. beef to China could become a cash cow to boost the bottom line for farmers.

"If the doors are open, I'm sure there will be beef going from the Midwest to China," said Davenport-area farmer Robb Ewoldt, on Tuesday, May 16.

Farmers like Ewoldt were locked out of the world's largest market for 13 years. That's why reopening the Chinese market to U.S. beef really is a big deal.

Ewoldt, who knows a lot about raising livestock, usually has more than 100 cattle on hand.  By the time they're ready for market, they could be heading to China.

"China, right now, is going to be the second largest consumer of beef, we think, this next year," he continued.  "It's not because they eat a lot of beef. It's just because they've got a lot of people to eat the beef."

International trade discussions dominated the recent agriculture summit at Cinnamon Ridge Farms.  China, which already buys Iowa-grown crops like soybeans, could begin importing U.S, beef later in 2017.

"There's still some hurdles to get over," said John Maxwell, Cinnamon Ridge Farms.  "Some of those barriers have been taken down, so that's what gives us great feelings about what's going to happen here."

The Illinois Farm Bureau is already fielding indirect questions from Chinese buyers. As part of the exchange, the U.S. will buy cooked chicken from China.

The beef deal should also boost demand for corn and soybeans. That would help lift low crop prices.

It's another example of the global economy reaching close to home. At Robb Ewoldt's farm, it spells opportunity.

"Since we can grow beef efficiently, and it's a quality and safe product, they're going to want it," he concluded.

It can be a new cash cow to help farmers boost their bottom line.