Looking out his combine cab window, Iowa farmer Dean Meyer contemplates several things, but one stands out, how to add value to every bushel of corn. Meyer knows one proven strategy to do so has been his diversified operation, including the livestock animals raised on his farm. When, Meyer, who raises cattle, feeds his cattle corn, sells them, and they become processed as beef products, he creates a value-added product -Iowa corn-fed beef. The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines value added-products as the production of a product in a manner that enhances its value. When exported overseas, red meat exports help add additional profitability for Iowa’s corn farmers like Meyer. Exports of value-added products such as ethanol and meat products make up the largest share of U.S. agricultural exports at 63 percent.
For this reason, Iowa Corn supports several different livestock initiatives such as the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). USMEF helps create new opportunities and develop existing international markets for U.S. red meat. Meyer, an Iowa Corn Growers Association Director, serves as Iowa Corn’s USMEF representative. And Meyer, a farmer from Rock Rapids, today assumed the role as Feed Grain Sector Representative to the U.S. Meat Export Federation Board following the USMEF Strategic Planning Conference held in Tucson, Arizona this week. Dean will serve a three-year term helping to lead the USMEF Feed Grain and Oilseed Committee charged with enhancing communications back to commodity organizations representing grains and oilseeds.
“Farmers may not realize the financial contribution their commodity corn organizations make to USMEF in helping drive demand for U.S. red corn-fed meat exports,” stated Meyer. “The livestock industry ranks as Iowa corn farmers’ number one customer. That’s why, Iowa Corn supports USMEF in growing both beef and pork exports as a critical market for Iowa’s livestock industry. The Iowa Corn Promotion Board has invested millions since 1979 to develop export red meat markets.”
Meyer sees several examples of potential new markets for U.S. pork and beef. “The opening of U.S. beef exports to China in mid-June has increased exports to Asia. We also see promise in expanding U.S. beef exports to the Japanese market. With Japan’s aging population moving into assisted living, they are seeking ways to add protein to this segment of the population’s diets. One way would be through red meat. We have also increased U.S. beef exports to Korea by 23 percent with the partnership with Costco. We see potential for U.S. pork exports in Columbia, Japan and Mexico. One major factor will be the North American Free Trade Agreement. We must protect our access to these markets.”
The Iowa Corn Promotion Board has gradually increased its investment in USMEF in recent years. With increased livestock industry expansion in Iowa, including two new packing plants and several new feed mills, Meyers says further support in USMEF by the corn industry makes sense.
ICPB’s investments in USMEF gets matched by two federal ag export programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program. Congress allocates these funds in each Farm Bill. As Congress begins steps to draft Farm Bill 2018, Meyers, an Iowa Corn Growers Association Director, urges farmers to contact their elected officials and ask for an expansion in MAP and FMD funding.
“In the past, USMEF received 50 percent of their funding from MAP and FMD. Now, USMEF receives only 35 percent because an increasing number of organizations want a piece of the pie and because federal funding for these programs has progressively decreased. Therefore, commodity organizations must continue to increase support to USMEF and why farmers must continue to urge Congress to protect MAP and FMD funding.”
MAP and FMD dollars deliver a strong return-on-investment, with every dollar invested creating $28 in export revenue. This equates to almost $200 billion of our country’s overall GDP.
Meyer says he is excited to be representing feed grain states and to be at the table, helping make decisions that impact the corn industry. "I am looking forward to the position, and am both humbled and honored to be selected. I am looking forward to representing feed grains at the USMEF table."
The Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) works to develop and defend markets, fund research, and provide education about corn and corn products. The Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) is a 7,500-member strong grassroots-driven organization, headquartered in Johnston, Iowa, serving members across the state, and lobbying on agricultural issues on behalf of its farmer members to create opportunities for long-term Iowa corn grower profitability. For more information, visit iowacorn.org.