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Trade’s Importance to U.S. Agriculture Major Focus of American Farm Bureau Convention

Seeking updates on U.S. exports of beef, pork and lamb, trade teams and agriculture professionals from Japan, South America and Africa visited the USMEF booth at the IDEAg Trade Show at the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Convention this week in New Orleans.

Tammy Connolly, USMEF director of international trade programs, greets visitors at the USMEF trade show booth at the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention in New Orleans

Tammy Connolly, USMEF director of international trade programs, greets visitors at the USMEF trade show booth at the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention in New Orleans

At the USMEF booth, farmers and ranchers from more than 35 states also expressed gratitude for the work being done to create demand for U.S. red meat in international markets.

The convention celebrated AFBF’s 100th anniversary and attracted more than 6,000 Farm Bureau members, along with policy makers, industry representatives and international guests.

President Donald Trump and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue addressed the convention, offering support for trade and agricultural exports.

Overall, the mood among U.S. farmers and ranchers at the annual gathering was positive, said USMEF Chair Conley Nelson, a pork producer from Algona, Iowa.

David Miller, director of research and commodity services for the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), shares data on U.S. red meat exports during a USMEF luncheon sponsored by IFBF

David Miller, director of research and commodity services for the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), shares data on U.S. red meat exports during a USMEF luncheon sponsored by IFBF

USMEF Chair Conley Nelson gives an update of USMEF programs to create demand for U.S. beef, pork and lamb in key international markets

USMEF Chair Conley Nelson gives an update of USMEF programs to create demand for U.S. beef, pork and lamb in key international markets

“There is a lot going on right now that has an impact on trade, but those affected by tariffs and other issues seem upbeat and positive,” said Nelson, who attended the trade show and spoke during an informational luncheon sponsored by USMEF in partnership with the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF). “The takeaway I have from the convention is that producers, both those who raise livestock and those who grow soybeans and corn, are steadfast in their support for what USMEF does. They recognize there are some headwinds and challenges, but they are appreciative of USMEF’s efforts to create global demand for U.S. red meat.”

At the USMEF luncheon, Nelson and industry leaders from across the country presented an overview of U.S. beef, pork and lamb exports and provided insights on both existing and emerging markets.

David Miller, IFBF director of research and commodity services, told those gathered at the luncheon that 2018 was a solid year for exports, despite trade issues that resulted in obstacles in some markets. Looking at year-to-date statistics through October, Miller noted that U.S. beef exports are up 9 percent in quantity and 17 percent in value, while pork exports are up 1 percent in both volume and value. Compared to the same point last year, U.S. lamb exports are up 69 percent in volume and 19 percent in value, thanks in part to stronger variety meat demand in Mexico.

“So, we have good, positive stories in all three sectors, though there are definitely factors out there that could slow things down,” said Miller. “The good news is that U.S. beef and pork have great strength in the international market and there is great acceptance of our products. This reflects the work of USMEF and other U.S. agricultural organizations.”

Nelson pointed to the growing knowledge among producers about the value of exports.

“It’s not just beef, pork or lamb producers who benefit, it’s those who grow corn and soybeans, too,” he said. “And at a convention like this, where you have farmers and ranchers together in one place, you can see the unity of U.S. agriculture.”