South Dakota is a big player in the national livestock arena, with an estimated 230,000 cattle on feed and nearly 1.4 million hogs and pigs throughout a state with human population of just over 800,000.
With relatively static beef and pork consumption in the U.S., South Dakota corn industry leaders realize that their greatest opportunity for increased sales and growth is through the export market. That realization has developed into an active partnership with the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
“The corn industry knows that its No. 1 customer in the United States is the livestock feeding industry,” said David Fremark, president of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council (SDCUC). “Ultimately, meat is the value-added product that we create. When we export U.S. beef and pork, the product goes overseas and the value stays here.”
South Dakota’s corn industry has backed that statement with corn checkoff dollars, which USMEF has matched with funds from the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program to implement market access and marketing programs in key overseas markets.
Lisa Richardson, executive director of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council, estimates that over the past nine years, South Dakota Corn has contributed in excess of $1 million to USMEF to support export-oriented programs.
According to the Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports, since the creation of the MAP program in 1985, U.S. agricultural exports have increased by nearly 300 percent and today more than 1.2 million Americans have jobs that depend on these exports.
“If we’re going to increase profitability through increased sales, we’re going to do it by selling (meat) to foreign countries,” said Fremark. “That’s our only hope to improve profits in the current climate.”
“We value the partnership we have developed with South Dakota corn,” said Philip Seng, president and CEO of USMEF. “Utilizing matching funds, we are able to multiply the value of their checkoff dollars to have a meaningful impact in the marketplace. That was the intent behind the original Market Access Program, and we’re seeing it work well here.”