USDA’s decision to accept beef imports from Paraguay for the first time in 25 years will likely not change the overall volume of U.S. imports, even during tight supplies and high prices. U.S. meat importers tell Reuters that’s due to a quota on shipments.
American beef prices set records this year because of herd contraction to its smallest level in decades. As a result, meat companies are relying on more imports to process enough ground beef to meet demand. Paraguay didn’t negotiate with the U.S. to sell beef under its own quota agreement. That means it has to compete with other countries in the same situation to fill a group tariff-rate quota.
The quota for these countries, including Brazil, Ireland, Japan, and Namibia, is approximately 650,000 metric tons. Suppliers already filled that quota earlier this year. Suppliers face a steep 26 percent tax on the value of products shipped above the quota.