The Kansas Department of Agriculture was among 23 different organizations represented during the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Heartland Tour in Tokyo and Sendai, Japan, September 1-7, 2019. Suzanne Ryan-Numrich, KDA international trade director, and Bob Haselwood, Berryton, Kansas Soybean Commission, represented the state on the mission.
 
The Heartland Tour visited Japan upon the announcement of the U.S.–Japan bilateral agreement. “The agreement is exciting for Kansas. Japan is consistently one of our leading and most valuable trade partners,” said Ryan-Numrich. “In 2018, Kansas exported over $754 million in agricultural commodities to Japan. This agreement will reduce tariffs and put us at a more level playing field with our competitors.”
 
During the Heartland Tour, participants observed the USMEF staff working to promote U.S. red meat and were able to join in on promotional events such as the USMEF Urban BBQ, a U.S. Beef and Pork promotion event with a celebrity chef, and a consumer event where they were able to demonstrate how to grill a ribeye steak and pork ribs.
 
The group was provided a market briefing by U.S. Department of Agriculture–Japan officials, toured the Tokyo Meat Market and beef carcass auction, and met with the Japan Meat Traders Association, Prima Ham, and Starzen, one of Japan’s largest meat importers and distributors. The team also traveled to Sendai, Japan, toured Kawaguchi Wagyu Farm, and met with the Sendai Beef Tongue Association.
 
Kansas exported nearly $726 million in red meat to Japan in 2018. “Not only can we look at exports in terms of red meat, but also exports of corn and soybeans in all forms. In 2018, the U.S. exported 40 million bushels of corn and 9.7 million bushels of soybeans to Japan in the form of red meat,” said Haselwood. “The USMEF has partnered with corn and soybean checkoff dollars to promote U.S. corn- and soybean-fed pork at the retail level. As a Kansas farmer, that’s meaningful work.”
 
Immediately following the USMEF Heartland Tour, the Kansas Department of Agriculture, along with the Kansas Department of Commerce, participated in the 51st Annual Joint Meeting of the Midwest U.S.–Japan Association and Japan–Midwest U.S. Association in Tokyo, Japan. The meeting is an annual gathering of business leaders from each association to reinforce the economic, political, and cultural ties that link the national economy of Japan with the regional economy of the Midwest.
 
KDA strives to encourage and enhance economic growth of the agriculture industry and the Kansas economy by exploring and expanding both domestic and international marketing opportunities. KDA is offering two upcoming opportunities to Kansas farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses to participate in State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant trade missions planned for 2020: VICTAM Asia/Petfood Forum Asia, Bangkok, Thailand, March 24-26; and NAMPO Harvest Day, Bothaville, South Africa, May 12-15. Interested persons should contact Suzanne Ryan-Numrich at suzanne.numrich@ks.gov or 785-564-6704.
 
Original release Sept. 30, Kansas Department of Agriculture
KDA Participates in Heartland Tour in Japan