Livestock and dairy producers can't afford to ignore what goes on in the rest of the world, says Scott Brown, University of Missouri livestock and dairy economist.
Global population and income growth spurs more consumption. Potentially, that means more export business for meat and dairy producers.
U.S. demand for protein products remains sluggish, Brown said. But a rising middle class is poised to grow in other parts of the world, especially the Asia-Pacific region outside of Japan.
Look for areas of growing population that have growing income, Brown told livestock and genetic exporters meeting in Kansas City.
"The new middle class seeks more meat in their diet. And they'll have money to buy."
Consumers in already developed countries don't show as much demand growth. "The U.S. economy turned upward, if slowly. Now, a lot depends on whether Congress does something that hurts job growth," Brown added.
In developing countries, more consumption depends on mouths to feed. And money to buy food.
U.S. farmers must realize export markets demand high quality. The U.S. now fills the niche for providing corn-fed prime beef. This quality has helped sustain beef prices in the U.S., boosting farm prices.
That quality demand is so strong, Brown said, that future export growth might come not from increased U.S. production but from reduced U.S. consumption.
Changes in U.S. agriculture will affect future exports.
Agricultural prices continued higher over the past five years. At the same time, input costs rose for raising and feeding livestock.