During the week of Oct. 1, 2018, representatives of the Wyoming Business Council and Wyoming producers are in Taipei, Taiwan, as part of an ongoing trade mission to develop a small-but-steady supply chain of Wyoming beef to Taiwan. New Wyoming-Asia Pacific Trade Office Director Chester Chu is assisting their efforts by lining up meetings with buyers, importers, grocers, restaurants and U.S. Meat Export Federation representatives, and a tour of a processing plant.
Q&A with Valerie Murray of Murraymere Farms
What is Murraymere Farm’s history?
We are a fourth-generation family-owned farm just south of Powell, Wyoming, on the Willwood. In 1914, our great-grandparents arrived by train from Missouri. Our great-grandfather, Earl, added the “mere” to “Murray,” which means “green pastures,” according to Scottish tradition. They started with nothing but sagebrush and now we are on our 104th crop year in Wyoming on pristine irrigated ground.
How did you get involved with the Wyoming trade mission?
Recently, I was approached by Rep. David Northrup asking if we had any beef ready for processing for a potential buyer in Taiwan. They requested beef samples be sent over to Taipei prior to the event in October. The timing was right; we did have cattle ready, so we jumped at the opportunity.
Is there a market for American beef in Taiwan?
There appears to be. According to articles I have read in Beef Magazine, incomes are rising in southeast Asia, and around the world. With that comes a growing taste for high-quality American beef and ag products. They also say the United States leads the world in efficient ag production and must continue to meet the global demand for high-quality food. The base demand for international beef is growing and it’s looking very solid according to research done by R-Calf USA.
What does that mean for Wyoming, specifically?
This is where I feel Wyoming is uniquely positioned to benefit from this supply chain. Wyoming has an enormous cattle and agriculture industry, but we are all at the mercy of the big corporations that pay less for our high-quality products, especially our top-notch beef because we are so remote. Wyoming beef producers have no other option than to deliver or process our meat in mass quantities, so we are left with trucking them out of state. We at Murraymere truck our animals at least 500 miles away, which is both costly and hard on the cattle to be on the truck that long. The cost to deliver is rising and the profit margin for the producer is barely at the break-even point at the current market, causing feeders to go out of business. This is devastating and damaging to all Wyoming agriculture.
If Wyoming could build face-to-face relations and trust with Taiwan buyers, plus prove our quality of beef, the Wyoming beef market would hopefully have an opportunity to start a large packing plant right here in Wyoming. That would give the producers the potential to cut out the middle man and increase profitability. It would also bring more jobs to our state and hopefully boost the Wyoming economy for everyone.
You are headed to Taiwan with the trade mission in October. How are you feeling about seeing your beef being served on the other side of the Earth?
I am thrilled to be attending the beef-to-Taiwan trade mission in Taipei representing our Wyoming beef industry and agriculture. I am so excited and proud knowing we, Murraymere Farms, were able to furnish the first samples to be sent to Taipei.