The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) here today elected John Bellinger, the San Antonio, Texas-based head of Agri-West International, Inc. as chairman for 2005-2006 during its Board of Directors Strategic Planning and Marketing Conference.

USMEF also elected Dennis Erpelding, Greenfield, Indiana, of Elanco Animal Health, as chairman-elect, Dan Halstrom, Greeley, Colo., of Swift & Company as vice chair, and Glen Keppy, a Davenport, Iowa pork producer, as secretary-treasurer.

“I plan to encourage and increase open communication among USMEF members, help redefine USMEF's role in the international marketplace, adapt to new opportunities and challenges, and increase market access,” said Bellinger after accepting the position. Bellinger  took over as elected head of the organization from outgoing chairman Alan Smith, Wichita, Kansas, of Cargill Meat Solutions.

USMEF represents beef/veal producers and feeders, pork producers and feeders, lamb producers and feeders, packers and processors, purveyors and traders, oilseeds producers, feedgrains producers, farm organizations and supply and service organizations. Each sector elects representatives to fill three-year terms on the USMEF Executive Committee. New sector representatives named during this meeting are: Keith Miller of the Kansas Farm Bureau to represent farm organizations, Cliff Smith, Iowa Corn Promotion Board, to represent the feedgrains sector, and Jon Caspers, National Pork Producers Council, to represent the pork producing sector.

The USMEF Board of Directors also passed a resolution calling for no additional FSIS ‘user fees’ to be imposed upon the meat industry for the purpose of conducting food safety inspections.

U.S. Meat Export Federation is the trade association responsible for developing international markets for the U.S. red meat industry and is funded by USDA, exporting companies, and the beef, pork, lamb, corn, sorghum and soybean checkoff programs.