DENVER — Last week, five business journalists from Russia visited the U.S. to learn more about the U.S. pork and beef industries and the current state of trade with Russia. One of the U.S. Meat Export Federation industry partners who met with the group was Larry Sitzman, executive director of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association.

Mr. Sitzman discussed the programs and functions managed by N.P.P.A., explained the importance of pork production and processing to Nebraska’s economy and discussed several pressing issues currently affecting the industry.

"I am really grateful I had the opportunity to visit with these people because they appear to be media financial experts and they asked very challenging and interesting questions about our system in this country," Mr. Sitzman said. "(They asked questions) not only of production agriculture, but very challenging questions on our wholesale and retail markets and the price received by producers. It was a real opportunity that U.S.M.E.F., in cooperation with our major funders in this country, had to address these markets so they can carry this message back to their countries and get it into the newspapers so people understand not only what we’re going through but how (we) react to it."

Mr. Sitzman said the importance of Russia as an export market cannot be overstated. "It’s extremely important," he stated. "I have received calls almost daily (asking) about what is being done to reopen the markets with Russia and China. Those are key markets. We realize the Russians are looking at trying to be self sufficient, but I feel both that country and China still need to be looking at importing a lot of pork and protein products. Hopefully, (such products) can be from the U.S. — and with the efforts of all of us, I believe that can happen."

The following day, the Russian journalists met with members of the Iowa Pork Producers Association during opening day of the Iowa State Fair. Among the representatives was I.P.P.A. President-elect John Weber, who had visited Russia on a pork industry trade mission in 2007.

"It is always interesting to have a delegation from another country come and I think these folks were sincerely interested in what we’re doing in swine production in this country," Mr. Weber said. "They asked a lot of questions revolving around our economic situation and trade situation. It was very interesting to see what they are reporting to the people back home. I think it’s very important that we continue to share dialogue. We learned a lot when we were over there. I hope these folks learn, in turn."