Cattle pigs split screen

Beef export numbers remained steady in September, while pork exports stayed above year-ago levels.

Beef exports over the first three quarters of 2019 are down 2% from last year’s record pace, according to an analysis from the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Export values were also down 2%.

According to the USMEF, export value per head was $318.54, up from August but still 5% below a year ago. The average over the first nine months of the year was down 3%.

Pork exports were up 13% from September 2018, with value posting a similar increase. Exports for January through September were up 5%, along with a 2% increase in value.

Exports contributed nearly $50 per head in September, up 3% from a year ago. Just over 25% of U.S. pork production was exported in September.

“While red meat exports face obstacles in some key markets, global demand dynamics are strong and we see opportunities for significant growth in the fourth quarter and into 2020,” USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom said in a news release. “Progress is being made on market access improvements and this makes for a very positive outlook going forward.”

Beef exports continue to face higher tariffs from Japan, much higher than most of the United States’ competitors. September exports were down 14% from a year ago in volume and value. Over the first nine months of 2019, exports were down 4% in volume.

“Japan is still delivering excellent value for U.S. beef producers, but tariff relief cannot come soon enough,” Halstrom explained, referring to the recently signed U.S.-Japan trade agreement, which is being discussed and considered for approval by the Japanese Parliament.

Pork exports to Mexico continue to grow after removal of the 20% retaliatory tariff, but has yet to reach levels prior to the tariff being imposed.

“Although the U.S. industry has made rebuilding pork demand in Mexico a top priority, there is definitely a lingering effect from the retaliatory duties, which were in place for nearly a full year,” Halstrom said.

“While it is a great relief to once again move pork to Mexico duty-free, ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement would certainly help the psychology of the market and bolster our major customers’ confidence in the U.S. supply chain.”

Jeff DeYoung is livestock editor for Iowa Farmer Today, Missouri Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.