Iowa pork producer, Conley Nelson will conclude his tenure as chair of the U.S. Meat Export Federation next month at the USMEF Strategic Planning Conference in Tucson, Ariz. While there are still challenges facing U.S. agriculture in trade, Nelson says it’s been a productive year for U.S. red meat exports.
“It’s been a great honor being chair of USMEF. USMEF is a great organization. It’s an organization that has a lot of support across agriculture and it’s doing good things out in the world. There’s a lot of success stories out there,” Nelson says. “We’ve got of course, our established markets, but there’s some emerging markets doing a lot better like Colombia for pork. We got beef going into Taiwan and we are starting to put a presence in Africa. We see some real opportunity down in that continent and we’re excited about all of that. Some other accomplishments, getting increased access for lamb in Japan, getting more access for beef in Japan, so I think there’s a lot of positive momentum going with our U.S. meat export.”
Nelson, who is also general manager of Smithfield’s hog production division in the company’s Midwest region, notes that while he has spent most of his professional life in the pork industry, his role as USMEF chair provided him a new perspective on U.S. agriculture.
“I’m from the pork industry and I’m very familiar with everything going on as it relates to pork, but in my role as chairman this year, I did see similarities everywhere,” Nelson says. “People are worried about labor, people are worried about succession -- getting young people into agriculture -- so there’s a lot more commonalities with all of our livestock producers than there are differences and I think USMEF brings that all together and we just got a great opportunity ahead of us in agriculture.”