USMEF concluded its Strategic Planning Conference in Tucson, Ariz., with the election of new officers. Cevin Jones, a cattle feeder from Eden, Idaho, was elected USMEF chair. He succeeds Iowa pork producer Conley Nelson.
“It’s very exciting to serve as USMEF chair and I plan to spend the next year doing what I can to help the membership, the staff and the leadership continue on its path to grow red meat exports,” said Jones, who along with his brother operates Intermountain Beef, a custom feedlot. “I’ve enjoyed working my way up the past few years as a USMEF officer and learned a lot from Conley and the other USMEF chairs who came before me.”
Jones, who has been president of Intermountain Beef since 2004, earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Boise State University and an associate degree in animal science from the College of Southern Idaho.
“My first involvement with USMEF was when I was marketing chair with the Idaho Cattle Association,” Jones recalled. “As part of my duties I would go to national conventions where USMEF staff and leadership shared information about their work in international markets. This was a tremendous eye-opener. I valued the importance of export markets then, but value them even more today.”
Jones became president of the Idaho Cattle Association in November 2003, shortly before one of the most disruptive events in the history of the U.S. beef industry.
“About one month later, I got the phone call – BSE,” Jones said. “Then I truly realized how important our exports markets are, when they closed overnight. But in time I got to see USMEF in action, helping to get those markets reopened.”
Jones later chaired the Idaho Beef Council and the Federation of State Beef Councils, and served on the Beef Promotion Operating Committee, further enhancing his interest in expanding global demand for U.S. beef.
As he took the helm at USMEF, Jones encouraged members to remain steadfast in their commitment to international marketing, even in the face of trade barriers and ongoing volatility.
“In 2010 the global middle class consisted of 850 million people, but next year it is projected to reach 1.3 billion,” Jones said. “And we know what happens when the middle class expands. The first thing people do is improve their diet and eat more protein.”
Jones added that in 50 years, experts project that 82% of the world’s population growth will take place in Africa.
“It’s no coincidence that USMEF now has its first-ever Africa representative to evaluate and pursue growth opportunities on that continent,” Jones said. “So I think that’s a very good move.”
This is one example of USMEF adjusting to changing market trends and economic conditions, which Jones said is essential to the organization’s continued success in expanding U.S. red meat exports.
“I expect the trade environment to continue to be very challenging, but we have experienced, dedicated people on the ground in international markets across the world who give USMEF the ability to adapt and change,” he said.
The USMEF officer team for 2019-2020 reflects the organization’s diverse membership. The new chair-elect is Pat Binger of Wichita, Kan., a vice president at Cargill Protein Group. Binger has been in the red meat industry for more than 30 years, including 27 years in international sales and 16 years directing Cargill’s overseas network of offices.
Mark Swanson is USMEF’s new vice chair. He is CEO of Birko Corporation, headquartered in Henderson, Colo., and has more than 20 years of experience with some of the most respected institutions in the protein industry, including Iowa Beef Processors, ConAgra Foods and Swift and Company.
The newest USMEF officer is Dean Meyer, who was elected secretary-treasurer. Meyer, a corn, soybean and livestock producer from Rock Rapids, Iowa, is a director of the Iowa Corn Growers Association. He has also served as chair of the Iowa Corn Animal Agriculture and Environment Committee and the Lyon County (Iowa) Pork Producers.