U.S. beef is in the worst shape since 2003’s BSE crisis, but future looks bright

The U.S. beef industry is seeing signs of recovery from the pandemic, but it is in the worst shape it has been in years.

A livestock market economist compares the industry’s state from COVID-19 to the bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, crisis of 2003.

The coronavirus closures led to a shortage of wholesale beef and higher retail prices, and beef export sales fell by 40 percent.

In the case of BSE, detected in December of 2003, the impact was more extreme. Export sales were at near 0 in the first quarter of 2004, after several countries threw up trade barriers. Export sales also fell from $3 billion dollars in 2003 to $1 billion dollars in 2004.

However, the overall outlook for exports this year appears positive, as China will continue to be a major driver of U.S. beef exports.