Sonoran And Arizona Cattle Industry Could Be Hurt By Import Ban

Published: Wednesday, May 20, 2020 - 4:52pm
Murphy Woodhouse/KJZZ
Sonora is one of Mexico's most import cattle exporters.

This week, President Donald Trump raised the prospect of curtailing cattle imports.

In those Tuesday comments, Trump talked about terminating trade deals that allow for such imports. Jay Whetten, past president and executive committee member of the Arizona Cattle Growers Association, took them as off-the-cuff remarks.

“Number one, for the Sonora producer, it would be absolutely devastating,” Whetten said of what would occur if such a policy went into effect. “If we take their export market away from them, their beef prices will be cut probably about 30 to 40%. They can’t survive on that. That right there breaks them.”

Whetten said it would also spell trouble for the Arizona cattle industry, which depends heavily on those imports. It could also lead to retaliatory measures from Mexico.

Sonora is one of Mexico’s most important cattle producers, accounting for a quarter of the roughly 344,000 head exported to the United States between January and March, according to Mexican data. Through May 19, more than 132,000 had been sent through Arizona ports, according to USDA data.

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