Exports have driven demand for U.S. pork in recent months. “Foreign buyers look to the U.S. for a combination of food safety, food quality, and price,” says David Preisler, executive director of the Minnesota Pork Producers Association (MPPA). “Right now, we’re the best country in the world to meet all three criteria.”
The U.S. currently exports about 30% of all the pork we produce—a huge improvement from 1995 when we were not self sufficient, notes Preisler.
Producers have learned, through application of technology, to deliver a product that meets the criteria of foreign buyers. “Many of the housing, nutrition, genetics, and business management technologies adopted by the Pipestone System have enabled us to get to this point,” says Preisler.
No one does a better job of pork production than Upper Midwestern farmers, who consider manure an asset, using it to fertilize their fields and grow the crops that are fed back to their livestock. “That level of sustainability does not exist in much of the rest of the world,” contends MPPA’s executive director.
Preisler praises the Pipestone System for not only promoting sustainable farming methods but sustainable ownership as well. “Shareholders have taken advantage of the System’s technology and scale to grow their farms to the size where they can bring in their sons and their daughters, and there are scores of examples in your system of that very thing happening today—the transfer of ownership to the next generation.”
As a member of the United States Meat Export Federation, Minnesota Pork Producers had a hand in creating the current strong export market. “The Federation funds projects to promote U.S. pork in Asian countries moving from poverty to the middle class.” A hallmark of economic development is the increase of protein in the average citizen’s diet. “Asian countries buy more pork, and since they are pork eating cultures, they don’t need to change anything culturally,” notes Preisler.
Key to growing the export business is making sure U.S. pork producers have access to these developing markets. According to Preisler, the National Pork Producers Council employs two trade attorneys whose full-time responsibilities are to help open up new markets, and once they are open to defend them.
“Exports offer tremendous future opportunity,” concludes the executive director, “but it will take work and time to continue to knock down trade barriers and enter into new trade agreements.”