Friday, February 18, 2005

Beef Wellington

Not to be lost in the midst of Social Security reform and sanctions against Syria is a lobbying effort to get a free trade agreement for New Zealand. With all the controversy over China and the WTO, this one seems like a no-brainer: New Zealand agriculture isn't government-sponsored and farmers haven't received subsidies for 15 years now (unlike, say, the French). And we're not just talking Kiwis either: New Zealand is a meat-lover's paradise. At the moment, only 3 percent of New Zealand beef makes its way to U.S. restaurants and butcheries. This could change with an FTA, providing American consumers with better choices than suspect Canadian beef and astronomically priced Wagyu from Japan. There is no quota on lamb, and a good thing at that. New Zealand lamb is arguably the best in the world (something about the diet) and may one day eclipse Kobe beef as the must-have for gourmands. I recently had the pleasure of sampling some New Zealand lamb chops at the launch party for the bipartisan Friends of New Zealand Congressional Caucus on Capitol Hill. "Succulent" and "falling-off-the-bone" are the two words that came to mind as I sank my teeth into the chops. This was followed by generous servings of New Zealand wines. Though the whites dominate the countryside, the reds, including a Seifred Malbec, were exquisite. When a free trade agreement is passed, wine lovers and carnivores alike will have much to rejoice over.

(No, I have not been paid by the government of New Zealand for this endorsement.)

1 comment:

Christopher said...

As a Canadian farmboy I have to object to your characterization of Canadian beef as suspect by ranting a bit.

It's true that two Canadian cows (and one American cow of Canadian origin) were discovered to have BSE or Mad Cow Disease. While BSE is a suitibly scary disease the chances of getting it from Canadian cattle are essentially none.

This hasn't stopped American politicians from shutting the border and keeping it shut far longer than makes any scientific sense. If Canadian beef has a suspect reputation in the US it is more because of politics than reality.

As for odes to the free market Canadian beef farmers (as opposed to regulated dairy farmers or wheat farmers) until recently received no government support. That has changed only because it's main trading partner has closed its market from Canadian cattle devasting the industry.

Rant over.