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Montana stockgrowers optimistic about trade truce

Iverson Ranch cattle

The Montana Stockgrowers Association is hopeful things will pick up after a huge trade deal made last year came to a standstill during the trade war.

In November 2017, the MSGA made a deal with JD.com, a major Chinese online retailer. The deal included the company investing in slaughterhouse and feedlot infrastructure in Montana. They would also buy $200 million worth of Montana beef, estimated to increase Montana beef exports by 40 percent.

MSGA said progress stalled on the deal with JD.com because of the trade war.

In April, Chinese regulators included beef among U.S. exports targeted for a 25-percent increase in import duty, and Chinese retailers said they’d get their beef from more affordable places like Australia, South America and Canada.

Then last weekend, after a key meeting with the Chinese leader, President Donald Trump announced an agreement that puts a hold on any new U.S. tariffs on goods from China -- at least for now.

Trump tweeted Monday that farmers will be a very big and fast beneficiary of the deal with China. Trump went on to say that because the U.S. makes the finest and cleanest products in the world, China intends to start purchasing agricultural product immediately.

"We are optimistic that this truce will positively affect Montana agriculture, MSGA will be monitoring the deal as more details become available. We will continue our efforts to source Montana beef into China, we look forward to resuming and building upon this potential market,” said Jay Bodner, MSGA executive vice president.

Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in Montana. The USDA reports that in 2017, Montana’s sale of cattle and calves totaled $1.492 billion.

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