But from Mad Cow testing to labeling requirements to a flood of imports, challenges remain for U.S. livestock industries. This week, the government stepped in to help, with the Commerce Department's decision to investigate the rising tide of Canadian hog imports.
Petitions were filed in early March by U.S. pork interests alleging that sharp drops in domestic hog prices over the past three years were brought on by an oversupply of Canadian hogs entering the U.S. They charge that Canada subsidizes hog production in violation of international trade rules, and that U.S. tariffs on imports of pork are near zero.
The numbers seem to bear out the allegations. Imports of all hogs jumped from 5.3 million head in 2002 to 7.4 million head in 2003. The value of that increase to foreign producers was some $45 million.
The U.S. International Trade Commission on May 3rd is expected to issue a preliminary report that determines the level of injury sustained by U.S. producers.