Beef exports are increasingly a significant component to derive value for the U.S. beef complex. Last year’s export value established a new record for the industry – exceeding $6 billion, which garnered an additional $626 million of revenue for U.S. beef producers. That value helped the beef industry maintain a solid footing with respect to net export value (exports less imports). In other words, international trade is providing a boost to the industry.

A total of $6 billion spread across every fed steer and heifer marketed in the U.S. is the equivalent of adding more than $22/cwt. to the fed market, or roughly $280/head. Ultimately, that value gets passed back up the supply chain to the calf and yearling markets. Therefore, all producers benefit from vibrant export activity.

Looking ahead, the most probable risks to growing the export market further in 2014 exist from two separate sources. One is a strengthening U.S. dollar compared to foreign currencies, and the second is trade tension with foreign countries (most notably, Canada and Mexico and potential fallout from mandatory country-of-origin labeling).

How do you perceive the presence of U.S. beef with our global trade partners? What other threats to the export market might exist? How do you see these and other forces taking shape on international trade in the coming year? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

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