by Gregg Hora, Iowa Pork Producers Association President

Gregg Hora, Iowa Pork Producers Association President

Each year, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) leads a group of U.S. beef, pork, corn and soybean producers across Japan to meet with Japanese buyers, explore market opportunities and see U.S. pork promotions in action. I am excited to be a part of the Heartland Tour this year to see how our Pork Checkoff dollars are working in our greatest value market.

Japan is the largest market for U.S. pork by value. In 2017, Japan imported over $1.626 billion worth of U.S. pork and over 868 million pounds.

I am excited to meet with major Japanese importers and distributors and to share the U.S. pork story with them. From our We Care® program to our excellent food safety record, we have a superior product and story to tell and it’s the perfect time for Japan to be buying more U.S. pork. Here is a little more of what I hope to share with the customers we meet in Japan:

We Care – Since 2008, the We Care initiative has been a promise to the public and our customers that we are committed to raising pigs responsibly and ethically. We have numerous programs including Pork Quality Assurance® (PQA Plus®) and Transport Quality Assurance® (TQA®) that allow our industry to know we are producing a safe, quality product. We Care ties these programs together and is our promise to customers that we are doing what is right on our farms every day.

Food Safety – For me as a farmer, providing safe food is my most important responsibility. On my farm, as on many farms across the U.S., we are using new technology and techniques to minimize food safety risks. My modern barns allow me to closely monitor my pigs and help me keep them healthy by reducing biosecurity risks. I am proud of my farm and the technologies we use that help us to produce safe food.

Responsible Production – Farming is more than talking the talk, it is about doing the right thing every day, even when no one is looking. I, along with many farmers across the U.S., are committed to raising pigs ethically and responsibly.

Our Desire to be a Trading Partner—In addition to what I do on the farm, one of the messages I am also going to emphasize is our desire to continue building our partnership with Japan. I know how important exports are to my bottom line, and I want to ensure that the stakeholders I meet in Japan know just how much we value being their trusted trading partner.

The future for U.S. pork exports is bright. I believe that we produce the safest, highest quality product in the world. Participating in the Heartland Tour will allow me to share that message with one of our most important customers. And hopefully, I’ll build relationships that will enable us to continue growing our market share in Japan.

Be sure to follow along on the Heartland Tour with #HeartlandTeam2018.