The wild gyrations in both the grain and livestock futures markets this week serve as a very good reminder that US agriculture is not an isolated production system. With talk of a possible collapse of the Russian ruble and the delay in export certificates for Russian wheat, the US was suddenly looked to as the desired trade partner by many purchasers of bulk feed grains.

The latest numbers I’ve seen is that approximately 25% of our pork production is exported. While we think of exports as those shipments that depart the US on boats to such countries as Japan, China and the Pacific Rim, in fact Canada and Mexico are 2 of our largest trading partners. Mexico is a major buyer of hams while the Canadians buy the same high value cuts that we see in our stores.

On the other hand, much of the Pacific Rim export trade (including Hong Kong and China) adds value to our production by purchasing such items as boar testicles, sow uterus, pig ears, etc. On a trip to Taiwan several years ago I had the experience of eating pig testicle soup, considered a delicacy by my hosts. When eaten while having a sip of the local beer – not too bad.

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