Cattle trade flows play an important role across the U.S. well beyond trade deficits and surpluses, or volumes. They provide numbers to keep feedlots full and packing plants running efficiently. They provide flexibility to adjust to market conditions along the supply chain in all three countries. In turn, these cattle become beef, and free trade agreements allow for our processing sector to ship different cuts to those countries that desire them the most. The U.S. would be hard-pressed to consume domestically the variety meats from its own cattle supply; these by-products would otherwise be considered waste without access to other markets that preferred these meats. Ultimately, these relationships have increased the value of the carcass in the U.S., finding consumers that value each of these cuts.
Read the July 21 Market Intel article on the North American Free Trade Agreement for a deep dive into the details of cattle and beef trade between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.