U.S. finalizes talks to resume beef exports to China after ban

Steak is pictured in New York March 11, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Final details are in place to allow U.S. exporters to resume beef shipments to China, U.S. officials said on Monday, allowing companies to prepare for their first shipments in 14 years.

After concluding talks with Beijing, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said U.S. producers must track the birthplace of cattle born in the United States that are destined for export to China.

In another rule, U.S. beef shipments to China must come from cattle less than 30 months of age, according to the USDA. The meat should not contain the growth promotant ractopamine, found in the drug Optaflexx, made by the Eli Lilly and Co unit Elanco.

China banned U.S. beef in 2003 after a U.S. scare over mad cow disease. Previous attempts by Washington to reopen the world’s fastest-growing beef market have fizzled out, but the quick progress in finalizing terms for shipments has raised hopes of U.S. farmers.

Washington and Beijing finalized details on export protocols ahead of a deadline, set under a broader trade deal last month, for shipments to begin by mid-July.

China’s beef imports increased to $2.5 billion last year from $275 million in 2012, according to the USDA.

Reporting by Tom Polansek; Editing by James Dalgleish