Audio: USMEF Chair Conley Nelson Reflects on Eventful Tenure

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The past 12 months have been both challenging and productive for the U.S. red meat industry and U.S. agriculture in general. USMEF Chair Conley Nelson, who has successfully led the organization during a crucial period for all involved in agricultural trade, will wrap up his term during the USMEF Strategic Planning Conference, set for Nov. 6-8 in Tucson, Arizona.

Nelson, a pork producer from Algona, Iowa, and general manager of Smithfield’s hog production division in the company’s Midwest region, reflects on his tenure and discusses some of USMEF’s accomplishments over the past year, as well as some of the opportunities that have been created for future red meat trade.


Ralph Loos: Iowa pork producer Conley Nelson will conclude his tenure as chair of the U.S. Meat Export Federation in early November at the USMEF strategic planning conference in Tucson, Arizona. It has been a productive year under Nelson’s leadership, despite challenges facing agriculture and trade. In this USMEF report, Nelson lists some of the positive developments for U.S. red meat exports.

Conley Nelson: It’s been a great honor being chair of USMEF, USMEF is a great organization. It’s an organization that has a lot of support across agriculture and it’s doing really great things out in the world. There’s a lot of success stories out there. We’ve got, of course, our established markets, but there’s some emerging markets doing a lot better, like Colombia for pork. We’ve got been going into Taiwan, and we are starting to put a presence in Africa. We see some real opportunity down in that continent and we’re excited about all of that. Some other accomplishments – getting increased access for lamb in Japan, getting more access for beef in Japan. I think there’s a lot of positive momentum going forward with our red meat exports.

Ralph Loos: Nelson noted that he has spent his professional life in the pork industry, but his role as USMEF chair provided him some unique learning experiences and a new perspective on U.S. agriculture.

Conley Nelson: I’m from the pork industry, and I’m very familiar with everything going on as it relates to pork. But in my roles as chairman this year, I did see similarities everywhere – people are worried about labor, people are worried about succession, getting young people into agriculture. So there’s a lot of commonalities with all of our livestock producers that there are differences. And I think USMEF brings that all together. We just have a great opportunity ahead of us in agriculture.

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

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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. USMEF complies with all equal opportunity, non-discrimination and affirmative action measures applicable to it by contract, government rule or regulation or as otherwise provided by law. USMEF is an equal opportunity employer and provider.