Patrick Ishmael
It seems that a bipartisan set of politicians are set on pumping this "send more beef to China" theme in the media. Gov. Jay Nixon did it last week (emphasis mine):
"If we want to sell more beef to Asia, we need more refrigerated warehouses. If we want to sell more pharmaceuticals and aerospace equipment, we need safe and secure transport facilities," he said. "I am a strong supporter of this initiative."

Missouri Speaker of the House Steven Tilley did it (emphasis mine):
Tilley said while the cargo hub would bring in planes filled with imports, the returning flights will open new markets for Missouri agricultural exports, specifically beef.

And former U.S. Senator Kit Bond did it, too. (Audio: Fast-forward to 14:45.)

Yet no matter which way you cut it, beef is — according to the Department of Agriculture — ineligible for export to China. If you loaded American beef onto an airplane tomorrow, it seems pretty clear that it could not go to China under these regulations. So every time a politician touts this beef angle, taxpayers should keep this important fact in mind.

We noted the beef prohibition in our Aerotropolis case study, specifically citing internal emails from Jason Van Eaton, the current China Hub executive director and a former high-level staffer to Sen. Bond. The relevant part (emphasis mine):
Bottom line, pork is officially open between the US and China. Beef is not but the word is that it will open soon … but that’s been the word for months. Many other trade issues keeping this tied up right now.

"Beef is not."

Kudos to Sen. Jason Crowell, then, for telling his constituents in southeast Missouri how the beef export aspect really plays out (emphasis mine.):
"It will help the job market in St. Louis and our neck of the woods as well," [Speaker] Tilley said, noting that many people in Perryville, Farmington and Cape Girardeau County drive to work in the St. Louis area. The increased tax revenue from about 20,000 jobs created by the Aerotropolis project would also provide more money for schools and transportation statewide, he said.

"Things that make St. Louis thrive spill over to help the rest of Missouri," Brandom said.

But Crowell called Aerotropolis a "boondoggle for St. Louis" and said it will not help Southeast Missouri cattle producers because China has a ban on imported beef.

"We're not stupid down here," Crowell said. "We can see when politicians who want to take St. Louis money speak down to their constituents."

As the old Wendy's ad asks, "Where's the Beef?"

Much more soon.

About the Author

Patrick Ishmael
Director of Government Accountability

Patrick Ishmael is the director of government accountability at the Show-Me Institute.