June 4, 2012

USMEF members meet in New Orleans

By Jessica Clowser, USMEF Intern

Greetings from Denver! Today marks the completion of my second week interning at the U.S. Meat Export Federation and what an exciting two weeks it has been! Moving to a new city and starting a new internship definitely brought on some nervous/exciting energy, but thus far, my experience has been amazing. Personally, I believe Denver combines exciting city life with people who are still down to earth.

My first week with USMEF was highlighted by a trip to New Orleans. USMEF hosted their Board of Directors Meeting and Product Showcase May 23-25 in the Big Easy. Having the opportunity to travel and participate was an amazing experience. Meeting USMEF’s directors and staff from their global offices located in Japan, Russia, Hong Kong, South America, and Europe was a thrill; I have never really been exposed to so many different backgrounds and cultures.+

View of New Orleans skyline from the river cruise.
Traveling to New Orleans was an adventure. My flight had a two hour delay at the gate in Denver due to some mechanical issue. But a silver lining emerged; ironically the gentleman sitting next to me pulled out his National Hog Farmer magazine and we began discussing the upcoming meetings in New Orleans to pass the time. Unfortunately, after arriving to the hotel, we came across another road block; the hotel’s computer system was completely down, preventing us from checking into our rooms.

Kelsey and I on the river cruise boat.
Nonetheless, USMEF planned a fabulous river boat cruise Wednesday night on the Mississippi River. Everyone boarded the Creole Queen from the river-walk dock near the hotel and indulged in a night of great food and socializing. It was awesome to see such a great turnout from Nebraska. During the reception, I was able to mingle and network with many other attendees from multiple countries and organizations. After docking, we were able to finally check into our rooms, so the night ended on great note! :)

Thursday’s schedule primarily consisted of meetings. Different trade groups met representing, pork, beef, and feedgrains. I attended and took notes for USMEF during the “Feedgrains and Oilseeds Caucus,” where supply and demand, land prices, and environmental stewardship were all discussed. However, I found the most interesting topic on the agenda to be the possibility of Japan opening its boarders to U.S. beef over 30 months of age. USMEF’s staff from the Japan office outlined their strategy and tactics to introduce this market to Japanese consumers. There is tremendous potential in this market; being from the “Beef State,” I know Nebraska’s beef producers will be at the forefront of this opportunity.

Senior V.P. Export Services Paul Clayton
explaining the difference between USDA
Prime, Upper 2/3 Choice, Low Choice, and Select.
Also on Thursday, I assisted staff with different taste panels for teams from South America, Asia, and Russia. They were given samples of lamb from the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand and asked to differentiate which sample came from the three different countries. Everyone came to the conclusion U.S. lamb is the most tender and has the best taste. Next we conducted another taste panel for beef. The teams were given samples of U.S. Prime, Upper two-thirds Choice, Low Choice, and Australian Grass-Fed. Once again, everyone agreed U.S. Prime was the best.

Even though there was limited free time, I did find time to explore some of the more popular sites in New Orleans.  Kelsey and I went to CafĂ© du Monde in the French Quarter where we indulged in Beignets.  Thursday evening, we ate Cajun food at LeBayou with Mark and Suzanne Jagels and explored the sites, sounds, and smells of Bourbon Street.
Beignets at Cafe du Monde!

New Orleans was amazing!  Working behind the scenes and participating in the meetings was a great introduction to USMEF and its membership.  I thoroughly enjoyed assisting staff members with any task along with networking with producers and industry leaders.

My duties in the office throughout the summer will include a variety of tasks; however, my main project will be putting together a Pork Variety Meat booklet for our exporters and importers.  A similar booklet was put together for beef through a joint effort with the Colorado Beef Council. I have compiled a list of the various variety meats, and will write descriptions where they can be found anatomically in the animal, order product, and travel to CSU to arrange the product for the photographer. 

This is an exciting time to be in agriculture; U.S. agriculture is at the forefront of feeding the world with high quality, dependable beef, pork, and lamb products. As a livestock producer, it is truly a privilege to work for an organization whose sole purpose is to put “U.S. meat on the world’s table.”

The U.S. Meat Export Federation is hosting Jessica Clowser of Seward, Neb., as their first summer intern supported by a partnership between the Nebraska Corn Board and USMEF. Jessica graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in December 2012 with a B.S. in Animal Science and recently returned from a semester internship with Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns in Washington, D.C. In Denver, Jessica will be assisting with promotions and international relationship opportunities.

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