Exports Help as U.S. Meat Sales Drop
Soybean checkoff support of meat exports helps U.S. livestock and soybean farmers
U.S. livestock farmers, with the help of organizations such as the checkoff, have found one way to combat the weak economy’s effect on domestic meat sales – exports. According to the Livestock Marketing Information Center, consumption of meat dropped one pound per person in the United States in 2010.
“The downturn in the economy has lowered the consumption of meat in the United States,” explains Jim Schriver, soybean farmer from Montpelier, Ind., and chair of the USB domestic marketing program. “We, as the soybean industry, feel the responsibility to help our number one customer, animal agriculture, move the meat offshore. We do this through our alliances and significant soybean checkoff funding with organizations such as the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).”
Domestic animal agriculture remains the largest consumer of U.S. soybeans, accounting for 98 percent of the domestic supply of soybean meal. Through support of organizations such as the USMEF, the checkoff works to maintain domestic demand for U.S. soybeans because soybean meal makes up a significant portion of animal feed. In 2010, this support helped the U.S. livestock industry achieve strong export numbers for U.S. pork and beef, according to USMEF.
With a year-end total of $4.08 billion, 2010 proved to be a record year for U.S. beef exports. USMEF helped to increase exports in many regions, including Canada, the European Union, the Middle East, Japan, Russia and Southeast Asia.
U.S. pork exports posted record numbers in Japan and Mexico, a total of $4.78 billion for 2010, the second-highest ever. USMEF predicts there’s still room for growth for U.S. meat exports in these regions and others.
“In 2008, there was an oversupply of domestic pork and not enough cold storage to handle the supply,” adds Schriver. “The soybean checkoff, working with state soybean boards and USMEF, created a surge plan to export excess pork backs to Japan. The benefits of this program, which is still active today, are evident in these recent export numbers.”
In addition to maintaining demand for U.S. soy, a healthy domestic animal agriculture sector also contributes to the U.S. economy. According to a checkoff-funded study, in 2009 U.S. animal agriculture employed more than 1.8 million Americans and contributed $16 billion in income and property tax revenue.Tags: animal agriculture, soybean checkoff