This week the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) hosted a congressional delegation from Mexico for a firsthand look at U.S. meat production. The three visiting legislators are members of the lower house of the Mexican Congress, where all three serve on the Livestock Committee – including the committee’s president, Salvador Barajas, who is from the state of Jalisco. Other Congressmen attending were Dario Badillo of Hidalgo and Raudel López of Aguascalientes.
A top official from Mexico’s Department of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA), Coordinator of Livestock Development Francisco Gurria, was also included in the delegation. USMEF staff members accompanying the group were Chad Russell, regional director for Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic, Dr. Nelson Huerta, director of technical services for USMEF-Mexico, and Cheyenne Dixon, manager of technical services in Denver.
“USMEF was pleased to have the opportunity to host such an influential group,” said Russell. “At both a legislative and regulatory level, these are people directly involved in shaping livestock policy in Mexico.”
Their first stop was the Aristocrat Angus ranching operation near Platteville, Colorado, where they learned about the production of purebred breeding stock as well as the management of a commercial cattle herd. At Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins, the group met with CSU President Tony Frank and Provost Rick Miranda. They also toured the Center for Meat Safety and Quality and received an overview of the research conducted at CSU and how it supports the agricultural economy of Colorado and the United States.
At USMEF headquarters in Denver, the delegation received a briefing on the role and mission of USMEF and some examples of its market development activities in Mexico and other key markets. They also met with officials from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
Other key industry activities included a tour of the Cargill beef processing plant in Fort Morgan, Colorado, and the JBS Five Rivers Cattle Feeding operation near Kersey, Colorado.
“The delegation definitely received a thorough, farm-to-plate examination of U.S. meat production,” said Russell. “They were very complimentary of the information provided, and found it to be an extremely beneficial experience.”
A Tuesday evening reception was hosted by USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng, USMEF Chair-elect Leann Saunders and Birko CEO Mark Swanson, a member of the USMEF Executive Committee. Special guests included Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture John Salazar, Elie Smilovitz, consul for economic and political affairs with the Consulate-General of Mexico in Denver, Colorado Farm Bureau President Don Shawcroft and Lauren Dever, executive director of the Colorado Pork Producers Council.
“As our No. 1 volume market for both U.S. beef and pork, maintaining a positive trading relationship with Mexico is particularly important to the U.S. meat industry,” Seng said. “This is why it is so important for USMEF to be actively engaged with leaders in both the executive and legislative branches of the Mexican government. Hosting this delegation is exactly the type of outreach that will benefit agricultural interests on both sides of the border for many years to come.”