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U.S. meat exports push past severed trade relations

Photo Courtesy of the United States Meat Export Federation (USMEF)

United States officials strive to obtain free trade with other countries. The most recent examples of this are negotiations with Canada, Mexico and China. A meat industry proponent shares how U.S. exports have held up during the renegotiation of trade agreements.

A U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) representative describes it best, “exports are doing well, in spite of everything.” Cevin Jones, USMEF chair-elect, talks about strides made in the meat export market.

“Beef has been doing well this year, on the export market. It looks like we’re going to top about eight-billion-dollars of trade this year. That equates to about $320 per head of fed animal this year, a fantastic return to our American producers,” Jones said.

“Pork exports are going to be slightly up for the year, not to the same extent as we’ve seen before. They got hit hard in China (and) Mexico, with the retaliatory tariffs there. That’s been the tough part to overcome on the pork side,” Jones said.

The Chinese government slapped a hefty tariff on United States pork exports, as well as other agricultural goods, ahead of the full-blown trade. Jones says despite this challenge, other overseas markets, such as Central and South America, have increased demand for U.S. meat exports.

“We’ve seen good growth there, especially in the beef varieties meat. Pork and lamb both going down there. I think we have potential for growth in those markets. Taiwan has been a fantastic success story. It’s doubled the export in five years,” Jones said. “Korea has been another market. It’s not a new market, but it’s one we’re seeing fantastic growth in.”

United States meat exports have also seen significant growth in Japan. Jones believes a free trade agreement with the island nation will better posture meat exports for success heading into the new year.

“(We) continue to see robust growth in Japan. We’ve been in that market a long time, but we’re still not seeing the mature level out,” Jones said. “It’s going to be important this next year that the U.S. gets some sort of free trade agreement with Japan. We’d like to see that come very quickly because starting the first of the year, we’re going to be at a disadvantage to all of our competitors worldwide.”