Exports add value to South Dakota cattle

Farm Forum

PIERRE – A recent announcement that Japan is expanding its access to U.S. beef is one more piece of positive export news for South Dakota beef producers who are battling drought, high feed costs, and rising beef prices at the retail level.

Through the work of the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF), funded in part through the Beef Checkoff Program, Japan opened its doors to U.S. beef exports from animals under 30 months of age. Previously, and since December 2003, only beef from animals 20 months of age or younger had been eligible for export to Japan. The exception is ground beef, which will be phased in under the new age requirements after a surveillance period to ensure that the new export protocol is proceeding smoothly.

As a result of the changes, the USMEF forecasts that U.S. beef exports to Japan in 2013 will increase approximately 45% in volume to 496 million pounds. Japan is currently the number two export market for U.S. beef in value, topping the $1 billion-mark in 2012 for the first time since 2003.

Wayne Tupper, owner of Kimball Livestock Exchange and a director on the South Dakota Beef Industry Council (SDBIC), is one of three South Dakotans serving as a national director to the USMEF. He says the announcement is good news for South Dakota’s beef producers. “This opens up many more pounds of U.S. beef to the Japanese market,” says Tupper. “It definitely adds value to the beef we produce.”

In fact, Tupper points to a recent study by Cornell University reporting that the USMEF’s programs over the last 10 years have returned an average in net revenue to the beef industry of $3.87 for every dollar invested. The USMEF, he says, predicts that the expanded access to Japan’s market should provide an additional $20 per head in value to U.S. producers.

In addition to the new age standards for Japan, one-year export records were set in several key export markets in 2012:

·Russia: 177 million pounds (10 percent increase) valued at $307.5 million (20 percent increase)

·Hong Kong: 143 million pounds (28 percent increase) valued at $339.5 million (43 percent increase)

·Central/South America: 74.7 million pounds (31 percent increase) valued at $134.1 million (57 percent increase)

·Canada: $1.177 billion (14 value increase even though volume dipped 6 percent to 396 million pounds)

The per-head export value for beef hit $216.73 in 2012, a $10.36 increase over 2011. Contributing to that was a new monthly record value of $242.65 set in December.

It’s that record of success that has prompted the SDBIC for the past several years to make a direct investment out of the state’s 50-cent share of the $1 beef checkoff to fund USMEF programs. This year, SDBIC is investing $100,000, providing the state’s Beef Council one USMEF director seat, plus an additional $17,200 to fund two extra director seats. In addition to Tupper, South Dakota’s beef producers are also represented on the USMEF by Mike Gebhart, Meadow, and John Symens, Amherst.

For Tupper, who is serving his second term as a national director to the USMEF, South Dakota producers are making a smart investment. “My eyes were opened at the first USMEF meeting I attended,” says Tupper, who explains that he was impressed watching the USMEF staff promote beef during a dinner to a Korean delegation. “I became aware of what goes on behind the scenes to promote beef to the export market. The USMEF’s number one objective is to increase the value and profitability of the U.S. beef, pork and lamb industries, and they do it well.”