Bruce Peterson has many local options to sell his corn: nearby river terminals, ethanol plants and feed mills. Now, he’s working on expanding international sales options for the pigs he raises. As chairman of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) Feed, Food and Industrial Action Team, he sees benefits as a corn and pork producer in increasing U.S. meat and poultry exports.
“As a corn grower, I obviously don’t want low corn prices,” says the Northfield, Minnesota, producer. “My hog and corn operations are positioned to complement each other.”
About 20% of the corn Peterson raises is used to feed his hogs. The rest goes into other markets. He also is a stockholder in a local ethanol plant, which uses some of his corn, and he raises soybeans, canning vegetables, alfalfa and cattle.
Beyond The Borders. “The U.S. is seeing expansion in pork, beef and poultry production. Domestic demand is not enough. We need more export opportunities for that meat and poultry,” he says. “The other benefit is that some of these buyers want parts of the carcass we don’t eat in the U.S. That adds more value. NCGA understands the importance of animal agriculture to our product.”
NCGA has set a goal to help grow meat and poultry exports by 40% by 2020. Using 2015 as a baseline, that growth represents approximately 330 million bushels in incremental corn demand and 1.15 billion total bushels used for U.S. meat and poultry exports.
“Animal agriculture remains the largest single user of corn,” says Sarah McKay, NCGA market development manager. “We are working to strengthen our relationships with animal ag groups, as well as collaborating on efforts to improve corn’s nutrient composition, to meet our goal.”
NCGA representatives this summer participated in the World Meat Congress for the first time. Attendance allowed them to meet with buyers from foreign countries and talk about the nutritional value of corn, the quality of corn-fed beef and pork, and the safety of U.S. meat.
Helping Hands. “We are working with such groups as the National Pork Board [NPB], National Cattlemen’s Beef Association [NCBA], U.S. Meat Export Federation [USMEF] and USA Poultry and Egg Export Council [USAPEEC],” McKay says. “We see animal agriculture, and especially exports, as areas where we can build consensus to benefit all of us.”
Similarly, NCGA talked with buyers at a USAPEEC international marketing conference this spring and met with packers and processors at a North American Meat Institute summit.
In addition to conference participation, NCGA partnered with USAPEEC on a value of exports study and will partner with USAPEEC, National Turkey Federation and Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association to finance an infectious bursal disease study to demonstrate U.S. turkey is free from disease and eligible for export to countries such as Australia. NCGA has helped advance pig welfare and dairy and beef sustainability through sponsorships of a new pig welfare symposium, and participation with the Dairy Sustainability Alliance and U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.
Most recently, NCGA partnered with NCBA in sponsorship of the Cattlemen’s Education Series, which offers grants to state beef associations for programs such as using corn byproducts in feed rations. Several state corn associations also help finance research and overseas promotions.
“Our grower leaders recognize it is crucial for our animal ag partners and corn consumers to be sustainable both environmentally and economically. Corn can help them achieve productivity goals,” McKay says. “We help leverage their dollars to achieve positive export growth results.”
Fido and Fish Feed:
The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is involved with the pet and aquaculture industries to further expand corn use.
For example, the commodity group is exploring research opportunities for fish feed and trials for using corn ingredients such as dried distillers grains. “The aquaculture industry seeks to reduce inclusion rates of fish meal because it is costly and raises sustainability challenges,” says Sarah McKay, NCGA market development manager. “We recognize soybeans are being fed in fish rations, but there is huge opportunity for corn to be included. The goal is to complement soy in feed rations, not replace it. This is an opportunity for our members who usually grow both crops to find mutually beneficial results.”
McKay says the aquaculture feed outlook is bright. NCGA is aware of startup companies that already are looking at ways to replace traditional fish meal in feed rations with corn products. Domestic fish production is expanding at the same time. Vacant warehouse buildings and malls in the Midwest are being converted for fish production that will require local feed sources.
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