Will Sawyer

Lead Economist, Animal Protein

Will Sawyer is lead animal protein economist in CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange research division, where his focus is on providing market and industry research for the pork, poultry and beef sectors.

Prior to joining CoBank in 2018, Mr. Sawyer was director of corporate development animal protein at JAMAS Capital providing strategic and investment analysis for the firm’s expanding portfolio of animal protein investments primarily in the poultry sector. Mr. Sawyer previously served as executive director of animal protein research at Rabobank in Atlanta, Georgia, and New York, New York, analyzing the pork and poultry sectors across North America.

Mr. Sawyer holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s in accountancy from Wake Forest University.

Recent Reports

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The Quarterly: We’re Not Going Back to Pre-COVID Conditions

Anticipation of a return to normal is in the air. But for the economy and rural industries, there will be no going back to pre-COVID conditions.

Dollar Divergence: US Dollar Index Does Not Reflect True Dollar Impact on US Ag Exports

The U.S. Dollar Index saw rapid deflation in 2020 and has coincided with a rally in commodity prices. 

The Great Grocery Grab of 2020 and the Ongoing Impact to U.S. Animal Protein

2020 was the most volatile and, for many, the most challenging year in U.S. animal protein history.

The Quarterly: New Year Optimism Confronts the Pandemic

2021 has quickly altered the political and market landscape. And optimism, particularly about the second half of the year, is rising. But to get there, all of us must muddle through for a few months more.

The Year Ahead: Forces That Will Shape the US Rural Economy in 2021

The speed of the economic recovery will largely hinge on the availability, dissemination and reach of COVID-19 vaccines, pushing the expected burst of pent-up consumer demand into the latter half of 2021, according to a comprehensive year-ahead outlook report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange division.

Surging Feed Prices to Test US Animal Protein’s Recovery

Feed costs have been relatively benign since 2012, helping the beef, pork and poultry sectors to expand more from 2014 to 2019 than in any five year period in the industry’s history. But in the coming year, U.S. livestock and poultry producers will face more feed cost inflation than they have in over a decade, challenging their ability to recover after a difficult and volatile 2020.

US Pork Export Outlook: How to Save Our Own Bacon as China Rebuilds

The U.S. pork industry has built multiple new plants over the past four years, increasing U.S. packing capacity by 12% with much of this new capacity eyed for international markets. 

The Quarterly, October 2020: The Fragile Recovery is About to be Tested

The coronavirus pandemic has now impacted all four quarters of 2020, and seemingly every aspect of life and business. 

Closed Meat Plants Today Mean Empty Meat Cases this Summer

The spread of COVID-19 among people who work in many beef and pork plants across the country has led to plant slowdowns and shut downs, creating a bottleneck in the U.S. meat and livestock supply chain. 

The Quarterly, April 2020: Keeping Us Connected, Our Lights On, and Our Pantries Full

The beginning of a new quarter finds us in unparalleled times – a pandemic ravaging the world, the U.S. economy in shutdown, millions of Americans out of work, and financial markets in turmoil. 

Walmart’s New Beef Plant is More Sizzle than Steak, For Now

In January, Walmart officially entered the beef business when it opened a case-ready beef plant in Thomasville, Georgia. 

Quarterly US Rural Economic Review, December 2019: Trade Resolutions Boost Optimism for a New Year

The fourth quarter is ending with much more optimism on trade and the economy compared to how it began. 

The Year Ahead: Forces That Will Shape the US Rural Economy in 2020

The U.S. rural economy will continue to face headwinds in 2020 and is expected to underperform relative to the economy of urban America. 

Evolving U.S. Demographics Give Chicken a New Leg to Stand On

Evolving U.S. demographics are shifting consumer preferences from white chicken meat to dark meat.

Foreign Tariffs Are Falling on the US Farmer Not Importer

Who pays the retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural exports is shaped by a number of factors that affect bargaining power between exporters and importers, depending on the agricultural good being traded.

Quarterly US Rural Economic Review, June 2019: Stalled Trade Talks, Record Rains Upend Agriculture

Global economic growth continues to slide, as tariffs drag on global trade and manufacturing.

US Poultry Outlook: This Time Things Are Different

The US chicken industry has experienced an unprecedented run of historic profitability since 2012 and responded with a significant increase in production and processing capacity.

African Swine Fever Implications for US Ag

Last August when the first cases of African Swine Fever (ASF) were announced in Northeast China, it was immediately clear that the global pork sector would be affected.

Quarterly US Rural Economic Review, March 2019: Agriculture Still Waiting For Relief

U.S. agriculture is poised for serious challenges for the remainder of 2019.

Protein Passport: Export Market Volatility is Worth the Risk

U.S. animal protein supplies have reached all-time highs in both production and domestic consumption. 

The Year Ahead: Forces That Will Shape the US Rural Economy in 2019

The U.S. economy is still performing well by most key measures. However, consumers, investors, companies and other market participants have become more wary about the near-term future with seemingly good reason. 

Quarterly US Rural Economic Review, December 2018: Agriculture Limps into 2019

Agriculture and its farmer cooperatives will face a challenging environment in 2019. Commodity markets have steadied, but resolution of ongoing trade disputes and completion of recently concluded trade negotiations will be critical to restoring optimism for the year ahead.

African Swine Fever: Animal Disease and Trade Disputes Converge on the Global Stage

African Swine Fever (ASF) is spreading throughout China, the world’s leading producer and consumer of pork. The swine disease — which is feared by every major pork producing and exporting country — has been detected in ten China provinces in the last two and a half months. 

Quarterly US Rural Economic Review, October 2018: Rising Output Compressing Agricultural Margins

The escalating trade war with China is the leading risk for U.S. agriculture. Retaliatory actions taken by China and other trading partners have raised concerns of long lasting effects on agricultural supply chains. 

Redefining Farm-to-Fork: Costco Sets New Protein Precedent

Costco sells more than 90 million rotisserie chickens each year, so the announcement that plans to build a poultry processing complex in eastern Nebraska raised numerous questions about how the nation's third largest retailer will orchestrate the construction and operation of a $400 million poultry complex.

Help Wanted: Wage Inflation and Worker Scarcity

Part of the rural labor shortage story is best told through statistics and trends. But to gain a more full picture of how labor challenges are affecting businesses, it is best to hear directly from those meeting the challenges head on.