LITTLE ROCK — U.S. Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton, both R-Ark., said Monday they applaud the end of the 13-year ban on U.S. beef imports to China.

President Donald Trump’s administration announced Monday it has reached a final agreement with Chinese officials allowing the U.S. to begin exporting beef to China. China banned U.S. beef in 2003 in response to a scare over mad cow disease.

“This is great news for cattle producers and ranchers in Arkansas and across the country who will be able to sell their top quality and affordable products to the growing Chinese market,” Boozman said in a statement Monday. “For 13 years, American beef producers have been shut out of the Chinese market, and I’m pleased the Trump administration has worked to level the playing field and create an environment where Americans can compete fairly.”

Cotton said in a statement, “This is a good day for the cattle farmers of Arkansas and all of America. U.S. beef is second to none, and there’s no reason why American farmers shouldn’t be able to compete for Chinese customers. I commend the president for bringing this deal to a successful close.”

The process to end the ban began in September 2016. In April of this year, 39 senators signed a letter to President Trump asking him to prioritize reopening China’s market to U.S. beef in his discussions with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

It was announced in early May that an agreement was reached to open Chinese markets to U.S. beef no later than July 16.