BILLINGS GAZETTE FRONT PAGE: Daines’ Missing Beef Deal With China a “Blunder”  

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Monday, October 19, 2020

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BILLINGS GAZETTE FRONT PAGE: Daines’ Missing Beef Deal With China a “Blunder”
Helena, MT – This weekend, Billings Gazette published a front-page story detailing Senator Steve Daines’ failed beef deal with China. In 2017, Sen. Daines touted his role in securing a “landmark” beef deal with China’s for Montana ranchers. 
However, three years have passed, the deal seems to have all but fallen apart  yet Daines is still pointing to this deal as a reason why he should be re-elected.

After years of broken promises and a disastrous trade war, Montanans are demanding answers: Where’s the beef, Senator Daines?

Billings Gazette: Democrats brand beef deal a Daines blunder
By: Tom Lutey 

“The Montana Democratic Party says a trade-war-plagued sales agreement between the Montana Stockgrowers Association and online China grocer has all but fallen apart, for which Democrats blame U.S. Sen. Steve Daines.

In a press conference this week, Democrats said the agreement between the state’s largest cattle association and had produced nothing after three years. Three Montanans who currently own cattle or have owned cattle in the past shared their disappointment.

Trade disputes with China have stifled the sale. The Montana Stockgrowers Association said their agreement is still alive, despite a tough two years of trade disputes between the United States and China.

“This would have been a very big deal to us. We would have been able to sell 80,000 to 90,000 cattle through this deal to China,” said Ben Peterson, a Judith Gap-area rancher. “We should be able to count on our elected officials to keep their word, but Daines seems to not think so.”

The big deal Peterson referred to is a November 2017 agreement between the Montana Stockgrowers Association and, the world’s third-largest internet retailer behind Amazon and Google. The agreement stemmed from a meeting that September between Montana Stockgrowers Association President Fred Wacker and the Chinese Ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai.

The meeting took place in Maudlow, northwest of Bozeman, and was arranged by Daines, who had presented a small cooler of Fred Wacker’s steaks to China Premier Li Keqiang during a trip to Beijing.

Several things have complicated the Stockgrowers’ beef agreement, President Trump being the first. The initial beef delivery was slated for mid-2018, but that March, Trump threatened to expand tariffs that originally targeted China steel and aluminum. The same Chinese embassy in Washington that talked beef with Wacker in Maudlow fired back at Trump, warning that China wouldn’t back down. The trade war escalated and then was exacerbated by the pandemic that Trump blames on China.

[Democrats] focused on Daines supporting trade with China early, but more recently siding with Trump on the trade war. The senator’s support for China has been a part of the Democrats’ campaign messaging against Daines, as they promote the Senate candidacy of their own Steve, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.

Democrats have branded Daines the “China Cheerleader,” at a time when U.S. sentiment toward China is low, particularly for Republicans.”


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