June 25, 2009

Nebraska farmers on the ground in Japan, Korea

Three farmers from Nebraska - two representing the corn farmers and one representing the beef sector - are in Japan and South Korea this week helping to put a face on U.S. agriculture and Nebraska and U.S. corn-fed beef.

Also on the trade mission are three farmers from Iowa.

As noted by the Nebraska Corn Board in this release, the mission was organized by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), which the Nebraska Corn Board supports as a way to promote high-quality U.S. and Nebraska beef abroad.

Beef exports add more than $130 to the value of each head of cattle. That makes exports vital to beef producers. And corn growers, who see a lot of corn and corn co-products (like distillers grains from ethanol plants) being fed to cattle.

“It is important for corn growers to support beef producers as they develop and expand markets. We’re on this mission to do that and to put a face on agriculture for important customers in Japan and South Korea,” said Mark Jagels, a member of the Nebraska Corn Board and a farmer from Davenport.

Jagels is joined on the mission by Nebraskans Alan Tiemann, a Nebraska Corn Board member and farmer from Seward, and David Hamilton, a Nebraska Beef Council member and farmer from Thedford.

“As corn producers, we realize that the livestock industry is our number one customer and that we need to be supportive of beef exports,” Tiemann said. “That’s something we have really set our minds to in Nebraska - understanding our largest customers’ needs and working together to move our industries forward.”

Currently, beef shipped to Japan must come from cattle aged 20 months or younger. Jagels said if that age limit could be raised to follow the 30-month rule that is more standardized, it would help U.S. beef producers reach its full market potential in the country.

“When we visited with the importers, grocers and meat buyers here in Japan, they were all in support of a higher age limit,” Tiemann said. “They could definitely utilize more U.S. beef if we are able to get that, so we’re hopeful that our governments will move this issue forward soon and then we’ll really be able to open up this export market.”

The photo, provided by USMEF, shows Jagels (right) addressing the Japanese media. Greg Hanes (left) is Japan director for USMEF.

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