The U.S. balance of trade received a $4.24 billion shot in the arm courtesy of the red meat industry in 2010, according to statistics released by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
Record-high export values for beef ($4.08 billion) and the second-highest total on record for pork ($4.78 billion) fueled the trade surplus.
“The United States agriculture sector not only is feeding much of the world, but it’s an important source of jobs and revenue for our country,” said Philip Seng, president and CEO of USMEF.
The U.S. beef industry exported 2.35 billion pounds valued at $4.08 billion in 2010, increases of 19 percent in volume and 32 percent in value over 2009. Beef exports exceeded imports by 605.1 million pounds and $1.155 billion in value.
Similarly, U.S. pork exports increased 3 percent in volume to 4.23 billion pounds and 10 percent in value to $4.78 billion versus 2009 totals. Those exports exceeded imports by 3.4 billion pounds and $3.58 billion in value.
Only U.S. lamb had an export deficit. Exports of 23.5 million pounds valued at $20.6 million compared with imports of 126.2 million pounds valued at $490 million.
Total U.S. red meat exports in 2010 were valued at $8.88 billion, 19.4 percent higher than the previous year and 4 percent higher than the previous record set in 2008.
That $8.88 billion in exports supports an estimated 107,000 U.S. jobs, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) calculations, with every billion dollars in U.S. agricultural exports supporting approximately 12,000 American jobs.
“The value of U.S. red meat exports can be measured in many ways,” Seng said. “For example, in 2010, the incremental value of beef exports equated to $153.09 for every steer and heifer processed. For hogs, the incremental value of exports was $43.72 per head.”
Another way to measure the value of exports, Seng said, was the return on investment that it provides for the taxpayers’ support of USMEF’s proactive efforts to support exports in 80 countries around the world. Of USMEF’s $35.3 million budget, just over half ($18.4 million) came from USDA’s Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program, with the balance coming in the form of support from the beef, pork, corn and soybean industries and USMEF members. An additional $24.3 million was contributed by international third-party organizations that USMEF partners with in its market development activities.
A recent independent study conducted by IHS Global Insight, Inc., for USDA found that for every $1 expended by government and industry on market development, U.S. food and agricultural exports increased by $35. Based on that formula, the collective $59.6 million that USMEF drew from all of its funding sources in 2010 created a $2.1 billion benefit for U.S. red meat exports.
“The decision by our legislators to invest in programs like the Market Access Program creates a multiplier effect that boosts exports, creates jobs and keeps the U.S. agriculture sector vibrant and profitable,” said Seng. “That $18.4 million investment USDA made in the U.S. red meat sector through USMEF in 2010 will pay dividends in American jobs for years to come.”