For the first time in over a decade Chinese citizens will have access to American beef. The Chinese government has lifted the ban on American beef imports and Montana Stockgrowers Associations Executive Vice President Errol Rice says Montana ranchers are excited for the new opportunity.

"This was a very exciting announcement for Montana's cattle ranching and beef industry," Rice said. "China is home to one-fifth of the global population with a growing middle class that's larger than the entire population of the United States and they're eating more protein. China is a major importer of protein, including beef and Montana ranchers sure want to catch a part of that strong demand."

Rice says the ban has been in place since November 2003.

"That was the first case of Mad Cow Disease that we had in the United States," Rice said. "Many Asian countries had put a temporary ban on U.S. beef exports. China held out for a number of years and the Chinese consumers should have access to our high quality U.S. beef, so its a very exciting statement to make."

When China stopped importing back in 2003, it was only importing around $10 million a year worth of U.S. beef. Growth in China leads analysts to believe that the beef market there is now worth around $150 million a month.