The U.S. Meat Export Federation Spring Conference held in Minneapolis, Minnesota brought together a broad selection of people in meat exports and related industries. Michigan Soybean Committee member and grower Brian Pridgeon attended the conference.
“It’s fascinating the way that they are trying to grow demand for our livestock products overseas and the way that they try to tailor the marketplace for where the current trends are in each of those areas,” he said.
Pridgeon said the connection between grains and meat, and ultimately meat exports, is important to each of the industries.
“The reason why Michigan soybeans asked me to serve is I’m also a pork producer in Michigan and I raise grains. They asked me to kind of be that intermediary to understand the value of putting soybean meal into pork and then exporting it abroad, and how it creates more value for the market chain,” he said. “It’s extremely important because about one-third of the pig’s value comes from the export marketplace and we didn’t have that and we have a smaller herd in the U.S.”
While not necessarily export-related, a topic brought up several times during the conference was the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in National Pork Producers Council v. Ross to uphold California’s Prop 12—a law banning the sale of pork in California from the offspring of sows kept in pens that do not meet its prescribed dimensions of 24 square feet per sow, even if the hogs were raised outside the state.
Pridgeon said it’s a worry for him as well.
“Yeah, there’s a concern with it. In Michigan, we passed a law in 2008 about how we would raise sows in Michigan. So, we have our law on the books and so I retrofitted my farm to meet that law. And had an economic investment in that. Now I have another state that is passing through regulations, and recommendations for how I’d have to retrofit again. And this appears to me that the trend has also taken place in Massachusetts,” he said. “So, at some point in time, there’s a point where a seventh-generation farm like mine, that is aging and a midsize farm, will just say enough is enough, and we won’t raise sows anymore.”
Pridgeon predicts that laws like California’s Prop 12 will lead to fewer farms.
“I think my concern is that these regulations get passed and I don’t think there are dollars there to help adjust the food system to meet where these are going. So, if I can’t get an economic return, I don’t want to do it,” he said. “Eventually, they push people out of the industry.”
The USMEF meets again Nov. 8-10, 2023 in New Orleans.
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