Valley Meat Market Manager Concerned Over New Mexican Trade Deal

2 years 10 months 6 days ago Tuesday, April 24 2018 Apr 24, 2018 April 24, 2018 2:16 PM April 24, 2018 in News

EDINBURG  – A Rio Grande Valley meat market manager is preparing for a boost in beef prices due to a new trade deal between Mexico and Europe.

He says he worries this will hurt his business.

The new trade agreement simplifies the customs process and eliminates tariffs for "practically all" goods traded between European Union member nations and Mexico, according to a release from the European Commission. 

Marco Vera says this move has an impact on his business in Edinburg. 

Vera's world revolves around meat. He's spent his most of his days work for his family's meat market. He says nothing beats the feeling of helping someone have a good meal. 

"The people love to eat," says Vera. "It's a natural way of living, you have to eat."

For years, his business has been selling meat from Mexico.

In the last 10 years, Vera says the amount of Mexican beef sold in his store has gone up. He says customers appreciate it.

"If you have the T-bone steak from U.S. costing you $7 a pound and the Mexican beef will cost you $3.99, they're going to go with the $3.99 one. Once they find out that the Mexican beef is just as good as the American beef, people tend to lean more on the Mexican items," he says.

Vera says the growth in the international trading of beef impacts the prices he pays for what he sells. He says now that Mexico has a good trade deal with the European Union and will be trading more, he has a new major competitor for Mexican beef.

He expects a change in his store's bottom line.

"The price of meat just skyrockets. Whether I buy it or not, they really don't care because they're paying more overseas," he explains.

Vera says with the cost of imported meat from Mexico going up, it affects not only his business but the consumer as well. 

"Either you find a cheaper way of eating, or either you want to eat bread for a couple of months or you want to just go ahead and make fajitas. So yeah, you're going to have to pay whatever it costs," he says.

CHANNEL FIVE NEWS reached out to the American Farm Bureau in Washington, DC.

Veronica Nigh, a trade economist with the group, spoke with us over the phone. 

She says, with tariffs removed, Mexico will be a major challenger of the U.S. in its efforts to keep a stronghold on the lucrative European market, which means more Mexican beef will go to Europe and overall beef prices will rise in the U.S.

She believes the change in prices will be more gradual.

"I wouldn't expect that to be an immediate shift but maybe something we'd see over the next two to three years, as more cattle are potentially grown for the EU market rather than the US market," she says.

Nigh adds the trade deal means Mexican beef exporters have never been in a better place to edge out the U.S. in the European Union.

Nigh says European Union requirements generally call for non-hormone beef. She says Mexican producers know the prices for this type of beef are high in Europe and will capitalize on it.  

Veronica Nigh says, according to her statistics at the American Farm Bureau, in 2017, the U.S. imported more than $1 billion in beef from Mexico.

She adds the U.S. exported $750 million to Mexico in 2017.

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