JBS Says Working for Producers

JBS Leader: Beef Industry Sustainability Helps Future Producers

Cameron Bruett, head of corporate affairs for JBS USA, speaks during the Iowa Cattle Industry Leadership Summit in Altoona on Dec. 14. (Photo courtesy of the Iowa Cattlemen's Association)

ALTOONA, Iowa (DTN) -- Agriculture's and the beef industry's voice is important in helping agriculture survive in the future. Those who have a voice outside of agriculture are making it more and more difficult for those in agriculture to do what they have for so many years.

"In agriculture, our sentiment is we will let others do it and then talk about it, but we need to be proactive," Cameron Bruett, head of corporate affairs for JBS USA, told attendees at the Iowa Cattlemen Industry Leadership Summit held in Altoona on Dec. 14. "It's not just about telling our story, but it's combatting all the negative."

"The world is facing huge challenges of food insecurity and a warming climate at the same time," Bruett said. "The solution of educated men and women around the world is to end the oldest profession that mankind has to offer. They want to limit our production, limit our efficiency, limit our access to technology and send us back to agriculture of the 1930s. And we cannot feed the world that way."


The mission of JBS hasn't changed over the years, Bruett said. They want to have a relationship of trust with suppliers and an opportunity of a better future for all their team.

JBS has become the No. 1 global beef producer, the largest poultry producer and the second-largest global pork producer in the past 70 years. Company leaders say they want to provide opportunities for the livestock producers and their team members.

"Today, 52% of our global revenues are here in the United States," Bruett said. "We have customers in over 100 countries around the world for U.S. beef. When people taste our (U.S.) fed beef, it changes the world and creates incredible opportunities for you (producers)."

JBS has nine beef plants across the U.S. In the U.S. alone, they purchase or raise 1.6 billion cattle, hogs and poultry and pay producers about $16 billion for these animals per year. They also have over 9,150 family farm partners across the U.S.

"You are critical for our business. We transform your hard work, labor and effort into consumable products for consumers," Bruett told summit attendees. "We have a lot more in common with cattle producers than not. There will be times we disagree, but we certainly need each other."


JBS is always looking for and bidding on high-quality cattle throughout the country, Bruett said. Beef cutout has drifted lower since October, and prices have come down as well. The choice-select spread has stayed strong through early December. He said that even with prices higher at retail, consumers have a taste for high-quality beef, and they aren't turning back.

Cattle on feed numbers are up 2% year over year and just below 2020 and 2021 levels. Beef cow slaughter is down a bit, but still higher than at this time last year. Bruett said there are no signs of rebuilding the herd, and the low in the beef herd size could still be ahead.

Globally, there is an increase in production in the Southern Hemisphere in Brazil and Australia. U.S. beef imports are down, but import demand is up. China continues to be the top importer of beef, but they are willing to get their beef from anywhere around the world.

"I was always taught that China is a fantastic opportunity, but don't put all your eggs in that basket because it can be gone tomorrow," Bruett said. "It still is a phenomenal market that is drawing a lot of beef. The U.S. is the largest grain-fed provider to China, but still is only 7% of the beef they import."

JBS continues to look for new markets for U.S. beef. They want to continue to help the beef industry be sustainable in the future but don't want to put mandates or regulations on how producers should manage their land.

"We want to help empower producers with the tools they need to make the right decisions and to maintain profitability," Bruett concluded.

Jennifer Carrico can be reached at jennifer.carrico@dtn.com

Follow her on X, formerly known as Twitter, @JennCattleGal