Audio: Meet Newly Elected USMEF Chairman Conley Nelson

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On Nov. 8, 2018, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) concluded its annual Strategic Planning Conference in Long Beach, California, with the election of new officers for the coming year. Conley Nelson, a pork producer from Algona, Iowa, was elected USMEF chairman. Nelson, a past president of the National Pork Board, has worked for Smithfield Foods for 35 years and is currently general manager of Smithfield’s hog production division in the company’s Midwest region.

The USMEF officer team also includes Chair-elect Cevin Jones of Eden, Idaho, who operates Intermountain Beef, a custom feedlot. Pat Binger of Wichita, Kansas, who heads international sales for Cargill Protein Group, is USMEF vice chair. Mark Swanson, CEO of Birko Corporation, was elected USMEF secretary-treasurer.


Joe Schuele: In this U.S. Meat Export Federation report, we introduce newly elected USMEF chairman, Conley Nelson, a pork producer from Altona, Iowa.

Conley Nelson: I am very humbled to be in this position and pretty excited and proud to be up here representing U.S. Meat Export Federation as your new chair. I have been married 40 years to my wife Kim. I have two children, Mark and Karen, and five grandkids. I grew up on a family farm in north-central Iowa, back in the days. We had a purebred Angus herd, Holstein dairy herd and a farrow-to-finish hog operation, 280 acres of corn and soybeans. The farm’s been in the family since 1891, but I’ve been employed in contract hog production since 1983 and I also built a hog site in the early 1990s on this farm. I am a past president of the National Pork Board and a former Iowa Pork Producers board member, 35-year employee of Smithfield Foods and general manager of the Midwest division of Smithfield hog production. We operate in Iowa, South Dakota, Missouri and Oklahoma. We’ve got about 335 employees, about 108,000 sows, over 500 contracts with farmers and we have about 1.8 million head of finishing space, feeding about three and a half million pigs a year. This coming year, what do I hope to influence? Synergy between all the sectors. How do we get them all pulling together and working together as one, to promote red meat out in the world? I’d like us to have a little bit more outreach, so the sectors see what we’re doing, understand what we’re doing and appreciate what USMEF is all about. There’s a tremendous amount of love for what we all do out there, a serious drive to get better in our operations, definitely concerns on how we’re going to deal with labor. What’s the impacts of new technology? What’s the affordability of customers’ demands? And then how am I going to pass this operation on to somebody else? Lot more similarities that unite us as oppose to the differences.

Joe Schuele: For more information, please visit For the U.S. Meat Export Federation, I’m Joe Schuele.

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The U.S. Meat Export Federation ( is the trade association responsible for developing international markets for the U.S. red meat industry. It is funded by USDA; the beef, pork, lamb, corn and soybean checkoff programs, as well as its members representing nine industry sectors: beef/veal producing & feeding, pork producing & feeding, lamb producing & feeding, packing & processing, purveying & trading, oilseeds producing, feedgrains producing, farm organizations and supply & service organizations.