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Agricultural News

Cracking Chinese and Russian Markets High on USMEF's List for 2014

Tue, 05 Nov 2013 17:55:05 CST

Cracking Chinese and Russian Markets High on USMEF's List for 2014
The United States Meat Export Federation is holding its Strategic Planning Conference in Fort Worth this week. The conference affords those in the red meat industry an opportunity to get an international view on issues of timely importance.

Issues topping the conference's agenda this year include how trade policies affect market access for U.S. exports, the top growth markets for the coming year, the effect of global standards on U.S. production practices, and the trend of consumer preferences in export markets.

Radio Oklahoma Network's Ron Hays is in Fort Worth and spoke with USMEF's CEO Phil Seng about the importance of this conference.

"We derive a lot of our funding both from the government, but also from the industry-beef checkoff, pork checkoff, you take a look at corn, soybeans, they all checkoff and contribute significantly to the USMEF," Send said. "And this is the first attempt for us to sit down with the wider industry and discuss our strategies and what we see in the markets and lay this out before them so we collectively can work together to establish a plan going forward. As we know, these markets are constantly changing. There's access. Sometimes there's not access. And, so, looking at the current situation and trying to make a plan is really what this is all about."

Seng said that 2013 has been a very good year for the beef industry. It is up ten percent in the value of product exported this year even with the closure of the Russian market beginning last February.

"The highlight, I guess you would have to say for the whole year, would be the opening of the Japanese market where it opened more from 20 months to 30 months which made, instead of about 25 percent of our cattle eligible to about 95 percent of our cattle eligible for the Japanese market. And Japan has performed very well in that regard."

He said another concern they have is the growth of the Chinese market. It has grown by 800 percent this year and is the fastest growing import market in the world.

"That's a market we desperately need to get into next year," Seng said.

In addressing the conference, Seng said he was very concerned with what Canada's leadership has been saying about retaliating for the U.S. Country of Origin Labeling rule.

"This is very concerning to us because this over 45 percent of our beef and pork exports from the United States. We're talking $12 billion in total is what we export and roughly $6 billion is at risk here. Those markets have been performing very well and they are very consistent markets for us. They're not undulating markets where they're up one year and down the next. So, the Canadian market and the Mexican market are very critical to our whole beef and pork export portfolios. We need to do whatever we can do to have that catastrophe occur."

Seng said this is something that can be rectified in the current farm bill before Congress and it is something legislators are paying heed to.

He said the export market is so important to producers in the United States. Currently the value per head of the export markets to cattle producers is $253. For hogs it is $52. Those numbers are up dramatically this year.

"That's the locomotive that's really pulling this industry along. So, it's very important to us, that export market and it's going to grow."

Seng said the biggest plums they are hoping to pick this year are getting into the Chinese market and making a return with meat exports to the Russian market.

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