Weekly USMEF Audio Report: Halstrom, Branstad Offer Highlights from USMEF Spring Conference

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Spring Conference wrapped up Friday in San Antonio, and USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom says one of the highlights for members was that they could meet face-to-face with many trade officials and USMEF international staff members who hadn’t been able to travel to a USMEF conference since 2019. He noted that Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Agricultural Affairs and Commodity Policy Julie Callahan and key staff from several USDA agencies were in attendance to answer questions from exporters and producers. USMEF international staff from South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Philippines, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa participated in the conference, offering firsthand insights from a wide range of markets.

The U.S.-China trade relationship was a key focus of the conference, with Terry Branstad, former U.S. ambassador to China and longtime Iowa governor, serving as a guest panelist. Branstad praises the market access gains for U.S. agriculture achieved in the 2020 Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement, which finally gave U.S. beef meaningful access to China and reduced trade barriers for U.S. pork. He credits former U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer for developing a personal relationship with his Chinese counterpart Liu He, which was critical to achieving a successful outcome. However, Branstad notes that he is skeptical that a “Phase Two” agreement will be coming anytime soon.