WASHINGTON — The US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) selected new officers during its Annual Strategic Planning Conference, held virtually from Nov. 10-13.

Pat Binger, who works as the lead for international meat sales at Cargill Protein North America, was named USMEF chairman. He has worked in the red meat industry for 33 years, including 17 years in Cargill Protein’s overseas network. He will replace Idaho cattle farmer Cevin Jones.

Binger was raised on a farm in northeastern South Dakota and a graduate of Northern State University. Binger joined Cargill subsidiary Excel Corporation in 1987 and eventually had his first opportunity for international marketing in 1991.

“While working in sales for another Cargill subsidiary, I was asked if I was interested in assuming responsibility for a small export business we had at that time,” Binger said. “Although I didn’t have any export experience, I said, ‘Absolutely!’ Shortly thereafter, I took a three-week trip to eight countries, traveling throughout Asia, meeting customers and gaining market exposure. I returned from that trip really excited about international business and the global red meat trade, and it’s been a passion of mine ever since.”

Pat Binger, USMEF chairman

Despite trade barriers and an uncertain international economic climate, Binger is hopeful for red meat to continue to grow around the world.

“From a carcass utilization standpoint, we need to continue to find ways to expand our export product mix – that’s a big opportunity going forward,” he said. “Additionally, there are items today that our industry is not getting boxed, either due to lack of labor or a combination of labor and complexity, and that’s another opportunity that we need to manage through. But all in all, I am very optimistic about the US red meat industry’s ability to take on challenges and seize the opportunities that lie ahead.”

Other officers appointed by USMEF include chair-elect Mark Swanson, chief executive officer of Henderson, Colo.-based Birko Corporation.

Dean Meyer will serve as vice-chair of the association. Currently, he is a corn, soybean and livestock producer from Rock Rapids, Iowa.

The newest officer will be Randy Spronk, who takes over as secretary-treasurer. Spronk previously served as president of the National Pork Producers Council and the Minnesota Pork Producers Association. He also served as chair of USMEF’s Pork and Allied Industries Committee and previously represented the pork producing and feeding sector on the USMEF Executive Committee.