Although the government has yet to make a final decision on whether to allow imports of US beef containing residues of the banned lean meat-enhancing drug ractopamine, heated debate over the issue has had an effect on market prices for domestically raised swine and cattle.
Prices for veal have declined by NT$5 per kilogram, while pork prices have plummeted 15 percent because of an increase in hog supplies, while wholesale prices have also decreased by more than NT$1,000 per swine, the largest monthly decrease since the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in 1999.
Dounan Township Farmer’s Association Public Relations Section director Liao Lu-ho (廖呂河) said on Friday that domestic cattle farmers were already facing a tough market, with imported beef taking 95 percent of the domestic market.
If the government were to lift its ban on imports of US beef containing ractopamine residues, which likely came from cattle raised at a lower cost, it would put the nail in the coffin of domestically raised beef, he said.
Liao said that veal prices had dropped to NT$97 per kilogram from NT$102 because the market has “anticipated” a likely policy change from the government on the disputed issue.
Liao said that once the ban on beef is lifted, other meat products with ractopamine residues would likely follow.
“This would not only affect the livelihood of cattle farmers, but also that of swine farmers,” he said.
Concerns over ractopamine have driven down beef as well as pork prices, said Lee Mou-jen (李謀仁), deputy manager of Yunlin County Meat Market Co.
Lee said that for the past two years, the price of hogs had remained stable at approximately NT$70 per kilogram, but prices began to decrease because of a surge in pork supplies just ahead of the Lunar New year.
Commenting on the matter, Yang Her-pei (楊河北), a former deputy director-general of the Republic of China Swine Association, said “the Council of Agriculture should confront the issue of the price decline rather than continue to elaborate on the controversial issues of ractopamine and US beef imports.”
Translated by Stacy Hsu, Staff Writer