The first conference of beef producing nations was held in 1976 and the first Four Nations Beef Conference was held in 1983 which included Australia, Canada, United States and New Zealand and later became the Five Nations Beef Alliance when Mexico joined the alliance in 1993.
Increasing global income and a more liberalized trading environment has resulted in global beef trade increasing over the past few decades, with these five beef-producing nations accounting for one third of this trade. When cattle exports are included, almost half of the world’s beef and cattle exports are from these five nations.
The success in beef and cattle production of these five nations has been achieved through internal efficiencies and through a lack of government and other artificial support. Global beef trade is expected to continue to increase, however efficient trade in beef has been restricted by a variety of factors. As with many other agricultural products, many regions still operate with trade distorting measures including high tariffs and quota restrictions.
Trade has been obstructed severely by animal health issues. The discovery of BSE in North America and the resulting disruption in beef trade has greatly affected the pattern of trade. In the late seventies, the beef cattle producer organizations of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States of America formed the Four Country Beef Conference as a forum to provide better understanding of the production and trading complexities experienced in each of our respective countries. In addition, the group provided an opportunity to develop a consistent position on international trade and animal health standards. In 1993, Mexico, as a growing player in international beef trade and a member of the North American Free Trade Agreement, was invited to participate and obtained full status as a member, agreeing to promote the set of principles guiding the group. The entry of Confederación Nacional de Organizaciones Ganaderas created the Five Nations Beef Conference.
More recently, the group has become the Five Nations Beef Alliance, recognizing the increasing importance of evolving animal health, welfare, and trading standards and this group’s ongoing participation in these issues. The FNBA has focused on a shared vision toward these matters that concern us as a group of beef trading nations. To address these issues, the FNBA has coordinated efforts to work with our respective national governments and other international and inter-governmental organizations that are related to the beef industry. As global beef trade increases, organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) become increasingly important for groups such as the FNBA and the beef producer organizations that form the Alliance.
In October of 2015, during the FNBA annual Conference in Mazatlán, México, it was agreed to expand the Alliance endorsing the membership of producer representative organizations from Brazil and Paraguay. The Associação dos Criadores de Mato Grosso and the Associação Nacional dos Confinadores from Brazil and the Asociación Rural del Paraguay were welcomed to the group.
The inclusion of these two important beef producing countries will see the Alliance grow to represent 46% of global beef cattle production and 63% of global beef exports1.
As a consequence, the Alliance has been rebranded the International Beef Alliance.