The United States sold more than $5.4 billion in U.S. beef and $6.1 billion in U.S. pork--
both records--to international customers last year, an achievement that wouldn't be possible without building relationships with global customers, according to Mark Jagels, a farmer from Davenport and member of the Nebraska Corn Board.
"International buyers and consumers want to know where their beef and pork are coming from. They want to know it is safe and nutritious, and they want U.S. farmers and ranchers to help tell that story," Jagels says. "Farmers here in Nebraska and across the country help do that by using checkoff dollars to support international marketing efforts organized by the U.S. Meat Export Federation."
Jagels, a fourth generation farmer, is also vice chairman of the U.S. Meat Export Federation. During a presentation at a commodity meeting in Nashville, Tenn., recently, Jagels noted that pork exports jumped 18% to 2.25 million tons and beef exports 21% to 1.29 million tons in 2011.
"That equates to a lot of soybeans, corn and distillers grains going overseas via value-added red meat products," he said, estimating those figures at more than 94 million bushels of soybeans and more than 568 million bushels of corn. "Meat exports not only support hog and cattle producers by adding value to beef and pork, but they support corn and soybean farmers through the value of exports."
According to Kelsey Pope, the Nebraska Corn Board's director of advocacy and outreach, 27.5% of the pork produced in the United States was exported last year, adding $55.55 to the value of each hog. Nearly 13 percent of the total came from meat products not typically consumed in the United States.
As for beef, she says, 14% of all U.S. beef was exported in 2011, adding a record $206.37 to the value of each steer and heifer processed. "Like with pork, about 13 percent of the total came from meat products we don't generally consume in the U.S. but are highly valued by international customers," Pope adds.
The Nebraska Corn Board has supported the U.S. Meat Export Federation since it was founded in 1979. In 2011, that support totaled $430,000, but other Nebraska ag groups, including the soybean and beef checkoffs, brought the total support from Nebraska farmers and ranchers to more than $1.2 million. When you compare this with the $1.3 billion export value of Nebraska beef and pork in 2011, the return on investment is tremendous.
"The U.S. Meat Export Federation has 18 offices around the world and does work in more than 80 countries," Jagels says. "They take our support and leverage it with USDA's Market Access Program funding and make a significant difference to every farmer and rancher in Nebraska and the United States as a whole. They build the relationships and organize trade missions that make it happen."
Research shows that for every dollar invested in U.S. Meat Export Federation programs, the beef industry saw about an $8 return and the pork industry about $15. "That's a pretty good payback on our investment," Jagels says. "It's why we continue to support U.S. meat exports by investing in the U.S. Meat Export Federation and participating in global trade missions."