Dr. Temple Grandin

Randy Blach, the CEO of Cattlefax, provided an outline of the world of agriculture at the 2018 International Livestock Forum, held recently at Colorado State Univ. He provided figures that showed which countries are the leaders in agriculture. Today, the US produces 33 percent of the world’s corn. Two-thirds of the world’s soybean production comes from the US and Brazil. The two countries are tied for first place.

China is the leader in hogs with 55 percent of the world’s pigs. In wheat production, Europe is the leader with 21 percent of production and China provides 17 percent of production. The US grows only 8 percent of the world’s wheat and has little effect on world wheat prices.

I almost fell off my chair when Randy stated that India has 29 percent of the world’s cattle. Brazil is in second place with 21 percent; the US has 10 percent, and the Europeans have 9 percent. Where the US would come out on top is in the productivity of each beef animal. Even though the cattle numbers are lower, the US is the world’s largest beef producer. It is in first place for both beef and poultry production. Brazil and India come in second and third place, respectively, as the largest beef producers. Randy Blach explained that much of the Indian beef includes water buffalos that are used for dairy or draft.

The largest beef exporters are the US in first place while Brazil is in second place. For pork, the European Union is the world’s largest exporter. When exports are calculated as a percentage of the total national production, the US only exports 12 percent. Mexico exports a whopping 70 percent of its production. When I did a search on my own, I discovered that Mexico is exporting a lot of their beef to the Middle East.

Sustainability Issues

Kim Stackhouse from JBS S.A. and Bill Lovette with Pilgrim’s Pride (a unit of JBS), discussed sustainability and how the meat market is changing. One of the problems, according to Stackhouse is, “everybody defines sustainability differently.” One thing everybody can agree on is that environmental issues are not the only sustainability issue. They stated that the top five issues in the meat industry are animal health and welfare, water use, environmental energy issues, employee safety and food safety and product integrity.

The big No. 1 is worker safety and safety for consumers. Some other interesting statistics they provided was that 30 percent of their chickens are antibiotic free. By 2020, Pilgrim’s Pride is on track to soon be 50 percent antibiotic free. Another interesting statistic is that the US and Brazil combined produce 68 percent of the global chicken.

This outline of world agriculture can provide useful insight into many different issues in today’s industry.