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USMEF Meets with Panamanian Agriculture Leadership

Published: Aug 21, 2012
Corporate social responsibility and USMEF initiatives to help support better regional dietary and meat-handling practices were topics of a presentation to the Panamanian Ministry of Agriculture (MIDA) recently by Dr. Nelson Huerta, USMEF-Mexico technical services director.

Top government officials from Panama, livestock industry leaders and reporters were present for the MIDA-sponsored program where Huerta delivered the keynote presentation: “USMEF Social Responsibility: Beyond Bilateral Meat Trade.”

“This was an excellent opportunity before the implementation of the Panama/U.S. Free Trade Agreement for USMEF to give an update on the issues facing the American and global meat industry and provide information on the programs USMEF is conducting in the region that are developed for the welfare of the local market,” said Huerta.

USMEF’s commitment to public education and corporate social responsibility was a key theme, and Huerta outlined a wide spectrum of programs introduced in Mexico, including:

  • Education of more than 2,500 butchers to help improve meat handling and hygienic and merchandising practices in the retail sector
  • Seminars in elementary schools to provide dietary information to help prevent diabetes and obesity.
  • Development of materials for use by local health professionals on the role of red meat in a healthy diet.
  • A train-the-trainer program regarding HAACP.
  • Scholarships for young livestock leaders who participate in the International Livestock Congress.
  • Science-based research and development initiatives conducted in collaboration with local academics, including a study on the prevalence of bacteria in the Mexican marketplace, and a characterization of quality and nutritional attributes of domestic beef and pork and their imported counterparts.
  • USMEF and the USA Poultry and Egg Council, with the support of a number of other industry partners, launched a one-year project to assist Mexico’s ministry of agriculture (SAGARPA) in developing and implementing science-based procedures, protocols and training programs for controlling and eradicating classical swine fever and exotic Newcastle disease. This was done through the FAS Global Based Initiative project.
  • USMEF is conducting a campaign in Mexico to educate consumers about the taste and eating pleasure of pork in order to support increased pork consumption, which would help both domestic pork producers and importers.

“The opportunity to have face-to-face discussions with top government and industry officials and build personal relationships in Panama was very valuable,” said Huerta. “Our competitors have not been given similar openings, so we are very appreciative.”

The U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement is expected to be implemented before the end of 2012.

The U.S. is the No. 1 supplier of both imported beef and pork to Panama, according to the Global Trade Atlas. Through the first half of 2012, U.S. pork exports to Panama are up 29 percent versus last year to a value of $5.9 million, making Panama the 18th largest destination for U.S. pork in terms of value. For beef, exports are up 51 percent to $3.2 million, which ranks Panama 33rd among global destinations for U.S. beef.