USMEF Strategic Planning Conference Underway
USMEF members received updates on a broad range of issues Wednesday at the opening session of their annual Strategic Planning Conference. The conference continues through Friday in Arlington, Virginia.
USMEF Chairman Mark Jagels
USMEF Chairman Mark Jagels, a corn and soybean producer and cattle feeder from Davenport, Nebraska, noted that both U.S. pork and U.S. beef export value are on a record pace in 2014, with combined exports expected to exceed $13 billion for the year.
“Despite the fact that we face many trade obstacles, I am more excited than ever about our prospects in the international marketplace,” he said. “The exceptional returns being generated for producers serve as a reminder of why it is so important to remain vigilant in our efforts to expand red meat exports.”
Jagels told members that because pork, beef and lamb exports are so critical to the viability of U.S. producers, it is essential that they take steps to ensure that USMEF is here to serve future generations. This is why the USMEF Executive Committee is launching “Project 40” – a new initiative that will thoroughly assess the needs and expectations of USMEF members and identify areas in which their level of service can be enhanced.
“Project 40 is a proactive initiative designed to build on nearly 40 years of growth and success, and to make USMEF a stronger organization from top to bottom,” Jagels explained. His full remarks can be viewed
Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, assistant U.S. trade representative for agricultural affairs and commodity policy
Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, assistant U.S. trade representative for agricultural affairs and commodity policy, provided USMEF members with an update on Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. She explained that while market access negotiations with Japan have proven difficult, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) remains committed to getting the best possible market access for a broad range of U.S. agricultural products, including pork and beef muscle cuts and processed products. She also discussed the progress USTR has made in negotiations with TPP participants Vietnam and Malaysia.
Lauritsen also noted growing concerns over the European Union’s duty free high-quality beef quota, which has recently seen increased utilization by suppliers other than the United States – especially Australia and Uruguay – which threatens the U.S. beef industry’s ability to continue expanding its exports to Europe. She said USTR is working closely with USMEF “to ensure that it is U.S. exporters that get the benefits of this particular program.”
Jim Wiesemeyer, senior vice president for farm and trade policy, Informa Economics
The session’s final speaker was Jim Wiesemeyer, senior vice president for farm and trade policy with Informa Economics. Wiesemeyer provided a colorful analysis of the previous day’s midterm elections, discussing the potential impact of the new Senate majority on key trade issues and agricultural policy. Segments from Wiesemeyer’s presentation are available online.
On Thursday, conference highlights include breakout sessions with USMEF’s international directors and staff, as well as meetings of the USMEF standing committees:
- Beef and Allied Industries Committee
- Pork and Allied Industries Committee
- Exporter Committee
- Feedgrain and Oilseeds Caucus
The conference will conclude Friday with a formal business session and election of new USMEF officers.