The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) has announced the recipients of its Michael J. Mansfield Award and Distinguished Service Award. Both will be presented at the USMEF 40th Anniversary & Strategic Planning Conference, Nov. 2-4 in Carlsbad, California.
The 2016 Mansfield Award recipient is Ambassador Darci Vetter, chief agricultural negotiator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). The award is presented in honor of former U.S. Senate Majority Leader and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Michael J. Mansfield, a Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree whose five decades of government service formed the foundation for advancement of U.S. trade relations throughout the world.
“I first became familiar with Mike Mansfield’s career when I worked for Sen. Max Baucus, a fellow Montanan,” she said. “When you work in the international trade arena, you look to people who were true statesmen and who knew how to build and foster relationships for the long haul. So receiving the Mansfield Award is an honor in itself, but the fact that it’s coming from USMEF is tremendous. I have so enjoyed working with USMEF – whether it’s with their senior staff in Denver, the overseas directors or their great economists, USMEF really helps connect the dots for those of us in government so that we can figure out what the agreements and protocols that we negotiate on paper will actually mean in terms of our exporters’ commercial experience.”
USMEF’s Distinguished Service Award is presented to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in the pursuit of USMEF’s export goals. This year’s honoree is Mark Gustafson, a longtime meat industry leader and international trade specialist. Prior to launching the consulting firm Gustafson & Associates, he spent 38 years working to advance red meat exports for JBS, Swift and Company, ConAgra International, USMEF and Monfort of Colorado.
“I started to get involved in international trade in the late 1970s and early 1980s, almost from the inception of USMEF,” Gustafson said. “So having worked in the export field for so long and with so many outstanding industry leaders, it’s truly a great honor to be recognized by them and to be selected for the Distinguished Service Award.”
“Keep in mind that in those early days, many of these markets were closed in one fashion or another,” he said. “Japan, for example, was still state-traded and wasn’t truly an open market. In Mexico there were licensing programs – each country had some sort of structural impediment that didn’t allow us free market access. So I felt that I could contribute to the meat industry’s growth and success by focusing on gaining meaningful access to these key markets.”