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Millions of dollars on the hoof

Posted at 4:45 PM, Mar 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-01 20:58:17-05
DOUGLAS, Ariz (KGUN9-TV) - We're showing you parts of our state as you may have never seen them before.
Continuing our look at the border city of Douglas here's the sort of border crossing you may never have seen before.
We often talk about cross border trade with Mexico, the manufacturing, the fruit and vegetables but we don't talk so much about the trade that comes across on four feet. At a special crossing just west of the Douglas vehicle and pedestrian crossing enough beef on the hoof, crosses from Mexico to amount to about four million dollars in value each week.
Ernesto Suarez and his crew from Suarez Cattle Brokerage turn what could be a chaos of cows into cattle sorted by size, breed and buyer----and weighed about ten tons at a time.
He says, "Oh, I love it. All my family's been doing this for 30, 33 years, I believe. But I grew up around it and it's just what I love doing."
The “M” branded on their rump shows these cows were raised in Mexico to meet U.S. standard for sale in this country.  U.S. government veterinarians like Doctor Kerry Forsyth keep track of the cows and their health, before they cross the border.
Doctor Forsyth says, “Everyone brings an export group of cattle has to have initially an international health certificate.  They have to have TB testing papers if they're coming up from a different zone out of Sonora."
U.S. Customs and Border Protection controls the gate in the border fence. Carl Robinson of CBP says this cross border cooperation dates back 70 years.
"When in the world there was a lot of very devastating cattle diseases that were impacting the market in a very negative way with a lot of death, with a lot of health issues with a lot of beef lost costing millions and millions maybe billions of losses."
That led the U.S. to sign agreements with Mexico, Canada and Australia to work out arrangements like the one designed to ensure the cattle filling the corral here in Douglas help keep U.S. herds healthy, and keep wholesome meat on the way to your table.
Ernesto Suarez says, "In a day, like today we had close to 14 hundred head.  In a week, I mean, anywhere from, if we're busy, seven thousand.  In a year, here in Douglas we're pushing anywhere from 150 to 200 thousand head a year."
"For a lot of the animals here what happens next will depend on what happens in bleachers near the corrals.  Buyers will sit, listen closely to an auctioneer and decide on a price that will decide which ranch or feed lot the cattle go to next.