Illinois pig farmers worry China trade tariffs could decimate industry

World Today

Illinois pig farmers worry China trade tariffs could decimate industry

As Washington and Beijing exchange warnings about the repercussions of a trade war, there is genuine concern among U.S. farmers. American agricultural exports to China topped $21 billion in 2016. A key product is pork – fourth on the export list.

CGTN’s Dan Williams reports many pork farmers in Illinois are disturbed by recent developments

It’s feeding time at a pork farm in Polo, western Illinois. Farmer Brian Duncan is hard at work in one of the sheds. But in the forefront of his mind are the possible tariffs that could be placed on the U.S. pork industry.

The White House has already imposed metal tariffs on China and is now working on details of a plan to add further duties on a host of other Chinese goods. China has already said it will fight back – and one commodity it is targeting is pork – with proposed tariffs as high as 25-percent.

If that happens, Duncan believes it would be catastrophic for the industry.

“Over a third of a value of a hog comes from exports,” Duncan said.” So you take those away, obviously, we are struggling to make money right now. But you take that away; it would decimate the pork industry.”

U.S. pork is a $20 billion a year industry with exports to China worth more than $1 billion. The National Pork Producers Council estimates that the pork export market supports 110,000 jobs.

“The China market is unique because one of their interests is in our variety meats, the things that really aren’t as marketable in the United States,” said Jennifer Tirey, who represents the Illinois Pork Producers. “With China being our number two market in volume, it would definitely impact the U.S. pork industry in a dramatic way. That would really hurt the economy and our U.S. pig farmer.”

Adding to the state of concern is the ongoing dispute over the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexico is the largest export market for U.S. pork producers.

The threat of tariffs has caused uncertainty for farmers in Illinois. And there is a real fear that once a market disappears, it is then difficult to bring it back.

Jim Monroe discusses the impacts of US tariffs on China could have on the American pork industry

CGTN’s Sean Callebs spoke with Jim Monroe, senior director of Communications at the National Pork Producers Council, about the possible impact on U.S. pork industry in case of a trade war between U.S. and China.