|Proto-Elamite bull sculpture, Southwestern Iran|
This is a little weird, but the U.K. Daily Mail has an exposé of sorts about the bull market that exists in American bovine semen exports to Iran. That's right, we don't sell the Iranians the entire bull, we just bludgeon the beefsteak a bit and then sell the Iranians the resulting seed stock. It's an agricultural development thing, so that makes it okay.
Despite most trade with Iran being illegal, the U.S. sent nearly $2 million dollars worth of bull semen to the Persian nation in 2012. In April 2013 alone, the U.S. sent $820,000 according to U.S. Census information gathered by Quartz.
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Altogether the U.S. sent $45.7 million in humanitarian aid to Iran last April. While the number seems like a lot, it's nothing compared to the $26.2 billion sent to our biggest trading partner - Canada.
Bovine sperm side-steps the usual rules against trade between the two nations since it qualifies as humanitarian aid.
It's humanitarian aid to Iran, and therefore legal. I haven't googled the extraction techniques involved in rendering this aid, but I wonder whether the bulls would agree that that aspect of the business is also humanitarian. Maybe they would; really, I don't want to know.
Humane considerations aside, bovine semen is a big business. Who says Americans don't make anything anymore? Our bulls are evidently some of the highest-T producers who ever swaggered around a barnyard.
In fact, American cattle ranchers sell so very much bovine semen each year that sales to Iran amount to just a drop in the bucket.
After following the links in the Daily Mail's article I learned that the U.S. is the world's second largest exporter of bovine semen. So robust are our bulls that the only foreign encroachment into our calf batter business comes from our neighbor to the north, Canada. Between us, we North Americans dominate the world's bovine semen market.
Take that, Iran and the rest of OPEC! The next time you drink a glass of milk or grille a beef kabob, you'll know what cartel to thank.