Drawing applause from more than 120 people attending Monday's Webster County Cattlemen's annual banquet, Dean Black said that U.S. cattle is the preferred beef source in Japan.
The keynote speaker was relating his experiences last November on a trade mission to Japan representing the beef industry.
The trade delegation included beef and pork representatives and Bill Northey Iowa's secretary of agriculture.
-Messenger photo by Larry Kershner
Dean Black addresses those attending Monday’s Webster County Cattlemen’s annual banquet at the county fairgrounds. He offered a report on his trade mission trip to Japan last fall, saying Japan considers the U.S. as its No 1 source for beef.
Black, a Somers-area cattleman, said Japan's approval rating of the U.S. "is as high now as it's ever been," following this country's assistance with helping the Japanese dig out of the March 2011 tsunami that devastated vast portions of northern Japan.
He said members of the armed forces assisted with clean-up, re-establishing utility services, traffic control and providing tons of food.
Black credited the national beef organization with starting a fund to ship food supplies to Japan, which included providing lunches for children so they could return to school.
As for import demand, Black said Japan considers U.S. cattle as the safest and the tastiest source of beef.
He noted that exports continue to increase each year. In 2010, 11.7 percent of the beef supply was exported. That jumped to 14 percent in 2011 and that Mexico is the largest U.S. customer in volume and dollars spent, while Japan is No. 2 in dollars spent on U.S. beef, and the Middle East is No. 2 in total volume of exported beef from the U.S.
Black said the Japanese had no complaints about U.S. beef quality, but only asked "if we could grow enough beef for them."
Black said he told them that "the beef herd is down, following two years of contraction, due in part to droughts and high feed costs, but more producers are holding more heifers back to ramp up production.
"But it will take about two years."
Aside from creating a tight supply of beef for domestic and foreign consumers, he said the dwindling beef herd also cuts the amount of checkoff funds collected. "There have been some cuts,"?he said, to checkoff activities, including a moratorium on television advertising.
The membership also met Iowa Cattlemen's Association's new chief executive officer, Matt Deppe, a cattle producer in Winterset.
Deppe said more young people are looking to careers in agriculture again. He said the association formed the Young Cattlemen Leadership Program designed to get young cattle producers networked into the industry.
He urged the membership to establish positive relationships with Iowa lawmakers, even inviting them to tour farms, especially those with farming backgrounds.
"You have to connect the gate with the plate,"?Deppe said. Describing the U.S. as producing "good, affordable food, be proud to tell the world about it."
During the event, Hannah Carlson, of Gowrie, was named the 2012 Webster County Beef Queen, replacing Cheyenne Jones in that role; while Tori Ferrari, of Dayton, was named county beef princess, replacing Carlson in that post.
Contact Larry Kershner at (515) 573-2141, ext. 453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.