Membership of the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) elected Randy Spronk, a pork and grain producer from Edgerton, MN, as their chair at the USMEF Strategic Planning Conference. A past president of National Pork Producers Council and Minnesota Pork Producers Association, Spronk is president and managing partner for Spronk Brothers Holding. Spronk said his priorities for the coming year include setting U.S. pork, beef, and lamb apart from the global competition in order to build demand.
“Differentiation – in other words, I think that’s one of the things I’ve realized over timeframe is, you know, we don’t want to have the same product as any other exporter, and how can we differentiate what we do in the United States from others so that we have long term growth in our markets,” Spronk said. “A diversification then – early in my career, I went to Japan with Governor Ventura in 1999. Japan was our only country at that time here and how we’ve diversified to many different markets, so that we’ve got multiple markets for each one of those primals that we export here. And both of those – diversification and differentiation – it’s to create more demand and so that we have multiple markets, more value coming back to the farm coming back to the producers to be able to add revenue back to their farms.
Spronk added that increased exports will be the key to recovering the pork markets next year.
“Up until our recent economic trials that we’re having here, in 1998 was the benchmark, and so as I stated, I went to Japan in 1999,” Spronk said. “So, we went through a very difficult timeframe in the United States swine industry, but yet we went ahead and utilized exports to actually bring us out of that. And I believe it’s going to be one of the things that does right here, right now. We’re having some domestic demand problems here because of our consumer, whether it’s inflation or you know, whatever excuse you want to use, but actually being able to move that product out of our domestic market internationally to those foreign countries is going to help us come back out of there and break profitability back to the domestic swine industry. So, I think it’s very important that we actually focus again on our exports. And I think it’s one of the things that we’ve identified in the swine industry is our story on sustainability. That can differentiate. It’s because of how we produce our feed. It’s about our corn and our soybean, how we utilize that that is our sustainability story that nobody else in the world can replicate.”
Spronk succeeds outgoing USMEF Chair Dean Meyer, a grain and livestock producer from Rock Rapids, Iowa. Steve Hanson, a cattle rancher from southwestern Nebraska who is also president of the Nebraska Cattlemen, will serve as USMEF chair-elect. The vice chair is Jay Theiler, executive vice president of corporate affairs for Agri Beef, based in Boise, Idaho. The newest USMEF officer is Secretary/Treasurer David Bruntz, a farmer and cattle feeder from Friend, Neb. He is a past chair of the Nebraska Corn Board and a past president of the Nebraska Cattlemen.
For more information, visit usmef.org.