WASHINGTON — Cevin Jones, an Idaho cattle feeder, was elected chairman of the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) at the association’s annual strategic planning conference. He will replace Iowa pork producer Conley Nelson.

“My first involvement with USMEF was when I was marketing chair with the Idaho Cattle Association,” Jones said. “As part of my duties, I would go to national conventions where USMEF staff and leadership shared information about their work in international markets. This was a tremendous eye-opener. I valued the importance of export markets then, but value them even more today.”

Jones has served as president of Intermountain Beef since 2004. He also worked as president of the Idaho Cattle Association starting in November 2003, a month before the first classical BSE case in the United States was discovered in December 2003.

“Then I truly realized how important our exports markets are, when they closed overnight,” Jones said. “But in time I got to see USMEF in action, helping to get those markets reopened.”

His resume also includes stints as the chairman of the Idaho Beef Council and Federation of State Beef Council and service on the Beef Promotion Operating Committee.

During his remarks at the conference, Jones encouraged members to remain committed to the international markets during volatility and ongoing trade disputes.

“In 2010 the global middle class consisted of 850 million people, but next year it is projected to reach 1.3 billion,” Jones said. “And we know what happens when the middle class expands. The first thing people do is improve their diet and eat more protein.”

Jones promoted the association’s expansion into Africa for future trade partnerships, including the first-ever African representative for USMEF.

Other officers named by USMEF include chair-elect Pat Binger, a vice president at Cargill Protein Group. Binger has worked in the meat industry for more than 30 years, including 27 years in international sales and 16 years with Cargill’s overseas network.

Mark Swanson will be vice chair of the association. He currently works as CEO of Birko Corp., headquartered in Henderson, Colorado. He’s worked with various protein companies over the last 20 years including Iowa Beef Processors, ConAgra Foods and Swift and Company.

The last officer elected was Dean Meyer who takes over as secretary-treasurer. Meyer is a corn, soybean and livestock producer in Iowa and director of the Iowa Corn Growers Association.