The Importance of Red Meat Exports to Corn Farmers

October 28, 2020

The Importance of Red Meat Exports to Corn Farmers

Oct 28, 2020

Key Issues:Animal Agriculture

Author: Dean Meyer

This editorial was submitted to NCGA by Dean Meyer, director of the Iowa Corn Growers Association and secretary-treasurer of the U.S. Meat Export Federation.


In many ways, this year’s harvest has been like any other – myself and my family working long days racing against the clock, against the weather, and against the many obstacles farmers typically face when getting the crops in each fall.


Of course, 2020 is a bit different. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every person and every industry, including agriculture.


The good news for corn farmers is that our biggest customer, America’s livestock industry, continues to succeed in the global market – despite COVID. Exporting red meat products around the world helps increase demand for beef, pork and lamb, which in turn creates demand for corn and other livestock feed.


Corn producers, soybean producers, hog producers and cattle producers – together we make up one heck of a team.


Supporting this team are organizations like the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), which works around the world to create demand for red meat. COVID-19 has slowed down a lot of things, but it has not slowed down USMEF’s efforts. Adapting its programs to reach importers and consumers in new ways – virtual training, online seminars, and social media promotions are some examples – USMEF sees recent rebounds in red meat exports as a sign its innovative work is paying off.


For corn producers, the numbers are impressive. Red meat exports added 12 percent of bushel value to the U.S. corn farmer in 2019, according to a study on the market value of red meat exports that was commissioned by USMEF and updated this summer.


Some other findings of the study:


  • At an average of $3.75 per bushel of corn, $0.46 is from red meat exports. The study indicated that without red meat exports, corn growers would have lost $6.4 billion in corn revenue in 2019.
  • In 2019, U.S. beef and pork exports used 480 million bushels of corn. Corn revenue generated by pork exports totaled $1.8 billion.
  • The projected market value of red meat exports to U.S. corn from 2020-2029 is $23.1 billion.


Corn producers provide critical support for USMEF’s efforts to expand global demand for U.S. red meat and USMEF remains optimistic about a strong finish for U.S. red meat exports in 2020, despite many challenges related to COVID-19.


USMEF’s optimism comes, in part, from recent trade agreements, such as the U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement, the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement and the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

But the optimism also comes from USMEF’s confidence in its ability to react to market conditions and meet the needs of importers and consumers. As mentioned previously, USMEF has adapted its programs during the pandemic, utilizing online and social media channels to reach customers around the world and share information about the quality and value of U.S. beef, pork and lamb.


These programs are specifically designed to educate consumers about U.S. red meat and introduce them to new cuts, new recipes and new uses.


Next time, I’ll share some examples of these USMEF programs and explain how the efforts benefit the U.S. agriculture “team” – beef producers, hog producers, soybean producers and, of course, corn producers.


Until then, I hope your own race against the clock, the weather, and all those obstacles we farmers face each fall goes well.