May 28, 2010

Meat Buyers, Corn Growers Gather in St. Louis

About 90 meat buyers from the Caribbean, China, Hong Kong, Mexico and the ASEAN region met with livestock producers, corn and soybean growers and foodservice groups at the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Board of Directors meeting and Product Showcase convention this week.

The overseas meat buyers attended the convention to participate in a cutting and sampling demonstration of U.S. beef and pork, as well as meet with foodservice agents to make connections for exporting U.S. beef, pork and lamb into their countries. The buyers compared and tasted beef samples from several different categories, such as grain-fed and grass-finished, Prime versus Select, and beef from younger versus older cattle. Samples were also compared that had been aged using different methods and for varying time periods.

On the agenda for USMEF committees and conference attendees were speakers and committee meetings, sessions on emerging issues in the global meat marketplace and economic outlooks, and breakout sessions with USMEF overseas staff in the retail and foodservice arenas.

Speakers on the agenda included Jerry Steiner, executive vice president of Monsanto Company; John Brewer, administrator from USDA’s Foreign Ag Service; and USMEF President & CEO Philip Seng. Updates from USMEF overseas staff included issues briefings from Joel Haggard from the Asia Pacific region, Chad Russell from the Mexico and Dominican Republic region and John Brook from the Europe, Russia and Middle East region.

Nebraska Corn Board member, Mark Jagels, is a member of the USMEF executive committee and lead the Feedgrain & Oilseed Caucus. At this meeting, attendees heard from Jeff Johnson of Pioneer; USB Market Evaluation of Korea by director of feed utilization, Philip Lobo; U.S. Livestock & Grain Outlook by American Farm Bureau Federation’s livestock economist, John Anderson; U.S. Land Price Outlook by the editor of Land Owner Newsletter, Mike Walsten; Kansas Corn & EU Hilton Beef Burger promotions by European USMEF direction John Brook; Japan Pork Seminar presentation by Calvin Rozenbook of Iowa Farm Bureau and Rich Degner of Iowa Pork Producers Association; and the U.S. Fertilizer Outlook by Mike Piken of Cleveland Research.

This meeting was not only great for the meat buyers, but for corn and soybean growers to communicate with the international visitors about how they raise their feed and how it is safe to feed beef, pork and lamb. It was especially interesting to find out why consumers in Asia are cautious of U.S. meat. A lot of it has to do with misinformation. This meeting provided many doors of communication to become open with the international meat buyers and our feedgrain and oilseed growers.

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