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.


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

The fourth quarter is ending with much more optimism on trade and the economy compared to how it began. 
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 are shifting consumer preferences from white chicken meat to dark meat.
Uncertainty over trade policy, weather and African Swine Fever dominated agricultural markets last quarter.
Over the past two years, the U.S. has clashed with some of its most important trading partners. CoBank analyzed 11 commodities representing a cross section of agricultural exports in Q4 2018 to understand who pays tariffs. 

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

October 2018
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. The Chinese have already culled almost 50,000 hogs in an effort to prevent spreading of the virus.
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

August 2018

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.