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Laramie – “Canada is very much a trading nation, and we are very dependent on trade,” commented Consul and Trade Commissioner for the Government of Canada Pamela Rose.
    Rose emphasized that there are a number of similarities between the U.S. and Canada, and our countries work closely. She spoke during breakout sessions at the 2012 AgriFuture Conference in Laramie on Oct. 17.
Similarities
    Rose listed a number of issues that Canadian agriculture faces that are similar to those seen in the U.S.
    “Young producers see challenges, including access to capital. The debt to asset ratio for operators under 40 is higher than for those over 40,” she said. “The public perception of agriculture, family farm succession, suitable and affordable land, urbanization, learning and skills development and profitability are all the same kinds of things as you are talking about.”
    As a result of the commonalities, Rose commented, “The key message is cooperation between Canada and the U.S. We are each trying to grow our piece of the pie, but by cooperating, we can probably end up with a bigger pie in the end.”
Export importance
    Trade as a share of Canada’s gross domestic products was over 63 percent in 2011.  
    She continued, “and thirty-nine percent of our ag goods are exported to the U.S.”
    While trade represents an important role in Canada’s economy, the country also represents the largest export market for the U.S.
    “Canada/U.S. trade is a little different than other countries,” said Rose, speaking of the volume and importance of exports. “We, as a foreign country, consume more U.S. products than any other country in the world, and that is also true for ag products.”
    She emphasized her point by saying that about $1 million in goods and services flow across the border each minute.
    “The U.S. sells more to Canada than the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and China combined,” she says, adding that the same holds true for the state level.
    “At the end of the day, this is a lot of money,” she said. “Eight million jobs in this country depend on trade and investment with Canada.”
Working together
    “A lot of trade between Canada and the U.S. is done in terms of making things together,” Rose said, again emphasizing the importance of the relationship. “We have supply chain efficiencies to make both countries more competitive.”
    She also looks at these efficiencies as also helping to keep jobs in the U.S. and Canada.
    For example, a number of companies manufacture and source ingredients on both sides of the border.
    “We are a stable and friendly supply of oil, as well,” Rose added.
    “The U.S. imported last year 2.7 million barrels per day of crude oil and refined products, representing 24 percent of total U.S. petroleum imports,” she said. “Our relationship is very mutually integrated.”
    “We have this relationship because it makes economic sense,” Rose continued. “We have similar cultures and languages.”
    As a result, the opportunity to continue an advanced trade relationship is very important.
    “Trade is not a zero-sum game – it is not measuring exports versus imports and who is ahead,” she sad. “For Canada and the U.S., we are making things together, and we are contributing to stronger mutual competitiveness.”
Wyoming
    On a more local level, Wyoming also sees direct benefit from trade relationships with Canada.
    “We are the top export market for Wyoming,” Rose noted. “Wyoming sends beer, gums and resins derived from seeds, beans, sauces and condiments and sunflower seeds.”
    Wyoming also receives pastries, mixes and dough and live plants from Canada.
    “For 35 states, we are the number one export market,” Rose commented. “For Wyoming, if you combine your next top three export markets, you sell more to Canada than those.”
    Last year, $9 million in agricultural exports went to Canada from Wyoming, said Rose.
    “It is important that we not be complacent out our relationship,” Rose added. “I really look forward to continuing to work with Wyoming in growing our partnership.”
    Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. market for meat exports was a “mixed bag” in the first quarter of 2013, commented U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Phillip Seng during a media conference on May 17, though challenges were seen in several sectors.

“It is pretty obvious for our beef exports that there have been challenges,” he commented, “but for the most part, we are doing pretty well on the beef side. Our numbers are down four percent on volume and five percent on value.”

Despite challenges to market access in China, Saudi Arabia, Argentina and Australia, Seng noted that other markets have seen increases.

Asian markets

“When we take a look at Japan, we are up 80 percent in volume in March alone,” Seng said. “That has been significant.”

Despite concerns that the yen has weakened some in the past quarter, Japan’s nature as a trading country means that increased trade helps to stimulate their economy. 

“Even though the yen has weakened, Japan is a trading nation,” he continued. “As they trade more, it stimulates the economy, and we see this outweighing the basic disadvantage of the yen, because the market has more enthusiasm. This bodes well for beef and pork.”

At the same time, recent announcements of continuing developments in Japan mean more velocity of U.S. product going in.

“When we take a look at what is going on with their Prime Minister announcing stimulus programs bodes very well,” Seng explained. “They have an attitude that tomorrow will be better than yesterday.”

He also noted that in Korea, large volumes of inventory are present, resulting in a seven percent decline in volume of exports to the country. At the same time, a five percent increase in value was seen for exports to the country.

In Hong Kong, the value of beef exports increased 106 percent.

“We are doing very well when you look at those markets,” remarked Seng.

NAFTA countries

Seng noted that in the countries involved in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), U.S. exports are doing well.

“We are up 20 percent in volume and 32 percent in value,” he said. “Canada is performing very, very well.”

In Mexico, USMEF Regional Director of Mexico and the Dominican Republic Chad Russell said beef has been down significantly in the first quarter.

“With the exception of 2011, beef has been trending downward since 2008,” Russell explained. “This is a result of the high price of U.S. beef.”

Mexico, he continued, is a price sensitive market and declines of 27 percent have been seen in the first quarter of 2013. 

“Mexicans love beef, but they can’t afford it,” he said.

Country of origin labeling is also a concern for Mexico and Canada.

Other countries of interest

For countries in the Middle East, John Brook, USMEF regional director of Europe, Russia and the Middle East, says, “The Middle East has seen good growth for U.S. exports. Things are going well in the oil producing countries.”

However, Saudi Arabia is still problematic, as the country closed beef imports from the U.S. after the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) incident last year.

“They closed with one incident of BSE, which is not understandable and unforgivable for a country like Saudi Arabia – a close ally. We hope the problem will be resolved,” said Brook.

Concerns over Egypt’s economy also present a problem for U.S. meat exports.

“We see some worrying news in continued political uncertainty,” said Brook. “The Egyptian pound has lost 20 percent against the U.S. dollar.”

However, beef liver and variety meats are a fundamental source of protein for the country, and price increases have not affected consumption to this point.

“We have also seen nice development in muscle cuts,” he added.

Trade agreements

Other encouraging prospects for export markets are the trade agreements that are developing, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP).

“Japan is a major player in Asian markets and is the world’s third largest economy,” commented Seng.

However, Japan’s involvement in the TPP doesn’t necessarily signal large gains in U.S. exports due to competition. Seng marked at least 20 competing pork suppliers and 10 competing beef suppliers.

“The TPP has also increased the interest of our competitors,” he added. “Our competitors are also very excited about the markets.”

The European free trade agreement, known as T-TIP, is also encouraging for export markets.

“We have monumental philosophical differences, but hopefully we can look for common ground and build from that,” said Seng. “We are not looking to identify differences and problems. When we find areas in common, we can move forward.”

However, Brook added that the European Union has been highly defensive in trade talks.

With a population of 500 million citizens and 27 countries in the European Union, they are a decided advantage for U.S. exports. 

Russian markets

With the close of Russian markets due to ractopamine challenges, impacts have been seen in both beef and pork markets. 

“The industry has been working hard with us,” commented Brook, “whereby companies that do want to deliver protein and beef in compliance with requirements can do so.”

The agreement, which is in the last stages of being finalized, would allow producers who do not utilize beta-agonists, such as ractopamine, in their product to export to Russia. Brook commented that a meeting between Russia’s veterinary services and the U.S. Food Safety Inspection Service is pending. 

“Russia has set a policy for self-sufficiency in food,” added Brook. “When we analyze the market situation in Russia, they have moved from about 60 percent self-sufficiency to as high as 65 percent.”

Regardless, he noted that the country still provides a valuable trading partner for a number of years.

Challenges in pork

“The pork markets are down 12 percent in volume and 11 percent in value,” said U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Phillip Seng. “There are challenges around the pork complex.”

Japan, the leading market for pork, was down 12 percent by volume, and Chinese markets were down 10 percent. 

At the same time, markets in Colombia, Singapore and the Philippines did well in the beginning of 2013.

In Mexico, domestic pork slaughter increased by 15 percent. 

“The good news is the increase in slaughter of Mexican hogs is declining rapidly,” USMEF Regional Director of Mexico and the Dominican Republic Chad Russell commented. “If the trend was to continue, there would be fewer Mexican hogs, and opportunities for the U.S. would open.”

For more information and reports from the U.S. Meat Export Federation, visit usmef.org.

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Moving into 2013, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) marked both good news and challenges for U.S. beef exports in the January 2013.

“Beef exports continued the trend shown in 2012, with higher export value on lower volumes,” said USMEF in a report.

Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO, said, “The year ahead will offer no shortage of challenges to red meat exports, which will require our industry to be creative and aggressive.”

Export markets

 With increases in exports to Hong Kong, Canada and Taiwan, USMEF marked an increase in value of exports at 9.3 percent in January. The total volume of beef exports, however, dropped by 3.2 percent

USMEF also marked strength in Japanese markets as also contributing to increased value. However, maintaining market access has proven to be a problem. 

Seng added, “On the beef side, we are still dealing with market access barriers in Saudi Arabia and significant obstacles in Russia, but there are signs for optimism in the months ahead with expanded beef access to Japan and Hong Kong that will provide a boost.”

Exports will also be affected, he added, by the devaluation of the Japanese yen. Since last summer, the yen has fallen by about 20 percent in value as compared to the U.S. dollar.

By the numbers

In January, USMEF reported that U.S. beef exports totaled 86,608 metric tons, valued at $443.8 million. The drop in exports to Russia accounts for the decline in volume from January 2012.

Beef exports to Russia have fallen by 91.5 percent after the country delisted U.S. beef plants for detection of growth promotant residues.

Canada, however, showed up as the top volume and value buyer for U.S. beef, with 16,586 metric tons, up 32 percent from 2012, worth $102.9 million, an increase of 42 percent from a year ago.

On the Pacific Rim, beef purchases from Hong Kong increased by 144 percent in volume to 7,004 metric tons. The country sits at number six on the beef export list, with exports valued a $37.1 million, a 115 percent increase from a year ago.

Rising exports were also seen in Taiwan, with a 14.5 percent increase in volume and 39.7 percent increase in value to $22.6 million.

South Korea, however, imported a slightly lower volume of beef, but the value of their imports increased by 12.2 percent to $58.2 million.

“Anticipating the Feb. 1 expansion of the market to beef from cattle under 30 months of age, Japan increased its U.S. beef purchases 5.5 percent in volume and 21.6 percent in value to 10,217 metric tons valued at $72.5 million,” says USMEF.

At home

On the domestic front, CME Group notes that wholesale beef prices have struggled relative to expected levels so far this year. At the same time, however, retail prices for all meat remains strong.

“According to USDA’s monthly retail price data released on March 15, beef prices remain at or near record high,” comments CME Group.

In February, choice beef sold for an average of $5.22 per pound, which marks an increase of 3.5 percent over a year ago. However, the figure is down 2.2 cents per pound from January’s record high numbers.

Market drivers

CME Group also expects beef to be a key driver, if not the key driver, of the meat industry this year.

“Last summer’s and fall’s sharply lower placements of cattle into feedlots was, and still is, we think, expected to lead to sharply lower cattle slaughter and higher beef prices this year,” says CME Group.

They further add that while those high prices haven’t been seen yet, recent market trends suggest the best may be yet to come.

“Year-to-date cattle slaughter was down only 0.6 percent through Feb.2,” they add. “After last week (March 11-15), it is now down 2.4 percent.”

Additionally, while year-to-date steer and heifer slaughter was up by 0.5 percent as of Feb. 2, by March 3, the figure showed slaughter as down by two percent.

Declining slaughter

“Given total cattle slaughter that was down 5.9 percent and 1.9 percent year over year, the past two weeks, those figure for steers and heifers are likely to grow more negative,” CME Group adds.

As evidence of a likely trend in declining slaughter, CME Group marks a rally of beef cutout values for the beginning of March, where Choice beef saw increases of $10 per hundredweight the week of March 9.

“Some analysts believe two dollars per pound is a huge psychological barrier to this market, and the historical data support that point of view,” says CME Group. “How many people will pay retail beef prices commensurate with two dollar Choice beef? We think the answer to that is ‘Not as many as will buy cheaper beef but far more than zero!’”

They further add that the marketing window for cattle placed in September is only just approaching, and September showed the lowest number of placements last fall, meaning shorter supplies will continue to come. 

Cattle on Feed

Numbers for cattle on feed are also expected to decline by CME Group analysts.

After just one month of higher year-on-year numbers, placements, which were two percent larger than last year in January, are expected to again fall significantly short of year-ago levels,” comments GME Group.

Coupled with a predicted tight grain supply and potential for very high prices, they note that the decline isn’t unexpected. 

At the same time, CME Group also notes that the feed cattle supply is tight and small margins are available, meaning feeders will likely be very careful.

For February 2013, USDA daily slaughter estimates show 1.799 million head were harvested, a number that is 91.5 percent of year-ago levels. The estimate was 92.7 percent. 

“If the 93.5 percent average of the estimates for March 1 feedlot inventories is accurate, it would put inventories at 10.918 million head – 759,000 fewer than one year ago,” emphasizes CME Group. “That is the largest year-on-year decline recorded in this most recent reduction cycle.”

“Inventories were 738,000 lower on Feb. 1 and have been at least 635,000 smaller than one year earlier since November,” they add.

To see the U.S. Meat Export Federation’s complete meat export report, visit usmef.org.

Saige Albert, managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, compiled this article. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Gulfood 2016 drew over 90,000 people from around the world from Feb. 21-25 in Dubai to celebrate the unique foods offered by exporters from around the world. As one of the world’s largest food exhibitions, the event brings exporters together with key buyers from growing regions around the world.

John Brook, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) regional director for Europe, Russia and the Middle East, says, “Gulfood has really become a very, very important show. It is the regional show for all of the Middle East, drawing in people from all over Africa and Asia, as well, and there’s no doubt that Gulfood is a hub. It’s a meeting point for a very wide region.”

Brook adds that the event drew more U.S. companies than ever before in 2016, and he sees that the regions represented at the show are important for U.S. producers.

U.S. beef piqued the interest of many from around the world, but Brook also notes the buyers showed strong interest in U.S. lamb.

“USMEF has been working with chefs and other foodservice professionals in the region to bolster demand for U.S. lamb,” adds Ralph Loos of USMEF.

Other markets

Another important market for U.S. beef, USMEF notes that Indonesia has begun to relax their import restrictions on U.S. beef.

USMEF explains that the country was once a top 10 volume market for beef exports, but inconsistent access in recent years has occurred in response to government efforts to bolster self-sufficiency in beef production.

Joel Haggard, USMEF senior vice president for the Asia Pacific, says, “Following publicity last year about a government-wide effort to streamline red tape and regulations, the Indonesian minister of agriculture published these new import regulations that made more cuts eligible for importation and allowed importers to apply to import as much beef as they want. More cuts are eligible from the U.S., including export staples such as short plates and short ribs.”

He also predicted higher U.S. volumes for 2016.

“The U.S. probably has the best opportunity in years to supply Indonesia because Australia’s live cattle export supply will be constrained by where that country is at in terms of its own cattle cycle and the consequent high beef import prices from Australia,” Haggard adds.

However, he emphasizes caution for the market as a result of challenges in the marketplace.

Haggard explains that the country requires purchasers to buy a certain quantity of domestic beef and prove it by showing receipts before they are able to  apply for an import license.

“It’s quite restrictive, and it lengthens planning time for imports, obviously,” he adds. “These and other restrictions are really the reason why the U.S., joined by New Zealand, filed a trade complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO) over Indonesia’s beef import regime.”

While the outcome of the case is important, Haggard also notes that USMEF is focusing on capturing the market share that they can in the meantime.

Export volumes

USMEF reported on Jan. 7 that exports of U.S. beef and pork were above last year, though only modestly. At the same time, export value slipped.

“Beef exports increased three percent from a year ago to 82,301 metric tons, but value was down 13 percent to $438.1 million,” they said. “Exports to most Asian markets, which were impacted early last year by the West Coast port labor impasse, increased in January, but these gains were largely offset by lower volumes shipped to Western Hemisphere markets and the Middle East.”

Exports in January only accounted for 12 percent of total beef production and nine percent for muscle cuts, which was steady from 2015. Export value per head of fed slaughter was $239.88, down 11 percent from a year ago.

Important markets

Beef exports to Japan were the largest in six months at 16,762 metric tons, up 21 percent from a year ago, while export value edged two percent higher to $93.2 million. Exports to South Korea and Taiwan increased by 59 and 25 percent in volume and 17 and three percent in value, respectively.

Led by a strong month in the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia, exports to the region increased 71 percent in volume and nine percent in value, said USMEF.

Exports to Hong Kong were up 19 percent, although value declined by 16 percent.

“Although it is encouraging to see beef exports to the Asian markets performing above year-ago levels, these results are a reminder of how disruptive the West Coast situation was for our industry,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “While we still face a tariff gap in Japan compared to Australian beef, Australia’s recent slowdown in production presents an opportunity to reclaim market share – an opportunity the U.S. industry is pursuing very aggressively. U.S. beef is also capitalizing on the tight domestic supplies in Korea, making strides in both the retail and foodservice sectors.”

Saige Albert, managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, compiled this article from a number of USMEF press releases and reports. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Laramie – This spring 12 students from across the country were selected to participate in the 2010 International Collegiate Ag Leadership Team (I-CAL) program, and one of them was Devin Burton of Powell, who attends the University of Wyoming.
As a part of I-CAL, Burton, a senior in ag business this fall, traveled to Malaysia and Taiwan from May 16-28 to study international grain marketing and trade and global agriculture. While overseas the team toured numerous different Asian agricultural operations, including grain inspection facilities, fruit/vegetable production farms, livestock operations, and open air grain, meat and animal markets.
The Grains Foundation of the U.S. Grains Council sponsors the program as a special project of the National FFA Foundation. Collegiate FFA Education Specialist Marty Tatman led the team on the trip.
“What the program looks at is how agriculture plays into the countries we visit,” says Burton. “We looked at supply and demand and the different types of operations and what they do in those countries.”
Burton says I-CAL isn’t just the international trip, but includes an entire program. “In preparing for the trip we did presentations and an orientation, and now that we’re back we will have presentations given to help promote the program and recruit more applicants,” he explains, noting that two will be to groups involved in agriculture, with the third given as general education.
Burton, who’s originally from a dairy operation Utah, says when he was in middle school his family moved to Powell and began their existing beef operation. As a part of FFA he’s also raised pigs and chickens, giving him a diverse ag background.
“Because the program is sponsored by the Grains Council it focuses more on grains than on meat promotion and exports, but while we were on the trip we did visit poultry and swine operations,” says Burton. “The U.S. Grains Council focuses on anything that will consume or utilize grain – from livestock to people to plastics.”
Of the experience traveling to Asia, Burton says Malaysia is developing, while Taiwan is developed. “It was interesting to see the diverse operations. On one side they could be very developed, using very commercial practices, while other times they weren’t very developed and still use very labor-intensive practices,” he says.
Burton says one interesting thing unique to the region was its palm oil industry. “Our climate in the U.S. doesn’t promote that industry, so we don’t hear much about it, but it’s a huge global player,” he explains.    
“When I think of Asia, I don’t usually think of Malaysia and Taiwan, but there are many smaller countries that play a big part in the global community, especially in agriculture, and they have large populations. It was nice to go on the trip and be able to have that change of perspective,” says Burton. “While we were in Taiwan the people kept letting us know there are still investment companies there, and that the rest of the world shouldn’t skip them and go straight to China.”
From going on the trip, Burton says he’s now seen first-hand that there are many opportunities for expansion. “I’m really interested in international trade and markets, and that’s part of the reason I applied for the I-CAL program,” he says, adding that the program and trip have only fueled that interest. “Everything I saw over there led me to believe it will be a growing field, and there’s a strong, healthy economy growing in that region.”
Following graduation in Spring 2011, Burton says he’d like to become a junior associate for a promotion company working overseas or work with an international trading company like Cargill, where he could learn more about the global playing field.
“It was a wonderful opportunity, and for college-aged kids it’s a great opportunity to learn how big and interconnected the world really is,” says Burton. “The program is great for anyone who’s interested in international agriculture, and I encourage them to apply.”
The deadline for next year’s I-CAL program will be in February 2011. For more information, email Devin Burton at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Christy Hemken is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..