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Meat exports expected to rise in 2010

Agriculture.com Staff 01/29/2010 @ 8:48am

According to the December USDA figures, exports of most meat sectors should see an increase in 2010. 2009 was a tough year for exports, especially in the hog industry where H1N1, as well as weak economies and a rising dollar in the second half of the year weighed on end-user buying. It appears the tide may be turning. Only time will tell, but if USDA projections are correct, inventories could become significantly tighter for U.S. meats by the second half of 2010.

Specifically, the USDA is expecting pork exports to grow 8.4 percent closing in to within 170 million pounds of the 2008 record of 4.667 billion pounds. Much will depend on foreign countries' ability to buy. The big purchasers could be Russia as well as China. As the world moves beyond the H1N1 fears and economic conditions improve, there is hope for U.S. pork producers. This could especially be true if the U.S. dollar weakens in the second half of the year, which some economists are suggesting due to current fiscal policy.

Beef exports are expected to grow nearly 10 percent with the USDA indicating 9.6 percent increase as a percentage of production. The beef export market has made a comeback since the devastating blow in 2003 BSE was discovered in a U.S. cattle herd. While exports have not yet moved to the level prior to 2003, it is likely that the world demand for U.S. beef will grow.

Poultry exports may be the only down market. Continued concerns with Russia banning U.S. poultry have poultry producers nervous. Broiler exports are expected to decline by over 10 percent. It appears that Russia will continue to find reasons to ban U.S. poultry. It is our opinion that Russia may be somewhat embarrassed that they’ve had to import U.S. poultry when in fact they could likely grow their own if they were more logistically set to do so. In time they will be. Until then, expect stops and starts of poultry exports.

Whatever the case, U.S. farmers should benefit in some capacity. If the exports of U.S. products increase and prices move higher, this creates incentive to grow livestock herds. That is good for American agriculture. If foreign countries decide to expand their own livestock operations, this could hurt U.S. exports, but probably not on a large scale anytime soon. The benefit of increasing world production is that world crop farmers may see better pricing opportunities in the years ahead due to the need for feed grains.

If you have questions or comments, contact Bryan Doherty at Top Farmer, 1-800-TOP-FARM extension 129.

According to the December USDA figures, exports of most meat sectors should see an increase in 2010. 2009 was a tough year for exports, especially in the hog industry where H1N1, as well as weak economies and a rising dollar in the second half of the year weighed on end-user buying. It appears the tide may be turning. Only time will tell, but if USDA projections are correct, inventories could become significantly tighter for U.S. meats by the second half of 2010.

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