Pork Industry Shows Patience and Faith On Trade

Jun 8, 2018  | 5 min  | Ep4342

Those higher prices have been brought on by the recent implementation of tariffs on those metals. The response from affected nations has been surgical. Mexico placed a stiff 20 percent tariff on pork products. Producers were already pushing back against a 20 percent charge that China added to existing fees.

Thousands descended on the Iowa State Fairgrounds this week for the World Pork Expo.

As exhibitors made their way around the show ring, pork industry leaders made their case for U.S. producers to compete on the world stage.

Neil Dierks, CEO, NPPC: “The issue for us is access. If we can get into compete, we’ll compete with anybody. When you talk about trade agreements, the deal with it is, we’re looking at duties and non-scientific barriers that allow us to come to market and compete.”

Battered and bruised, the U.S. pork industry is on the front lines of several trade disputes. Members have made phone calls to National Pork Producers Council leadership even though President Trump has said he’s not going to leave agriculture out in the cold.

Nick Giordano, Global Government Affairs, NPPC: “We’re the biggest single sector in the U.S. that is taking it on the chin. I give a lot of credit to pork producers for being very measured and very patient.”

As late as 1995, the U.S. was still a net importer of pork. Last year, domestic producers shipped 27 percent of their product out of the country.

Nick Giordano, Global Government Affairs, NPPC: “The pork industry in some ways, you can say, pork has made rural America great again. We’ve been an engine of development for rural America. We’re taking a step backwards now with punitive tariffs in China and Mexico, but as I said before, ultimately we’ve got to be able to trade because we are in an extremely competitive industry.”

And as new markets like Argentina emerge, it is the existing destinations of U.S. pork - like NAFTA nations - that are some of the most important. If nothing else, NPPC leaders would like to see a continuation of zero tariff access into the Mexican market.   

Nick Giordano, Global Government Affairs, NPPC: “We’re taking water on fast, there’s a lot of blood on the floor, but we’re giving this administration the benefit of the doubt. They’ve said repeatedly they’re going to work with us, so we’re going to work with them.”

Paul Yeager, Market to Market: “Finding new markets for U.S. pork is priority number one. But at some point, it may have to resort to number two, and that’s eating its way out of the problem.”

Nick Giordano, Global Government Affairs, NPPC: “The best thing the general public can do is very simple. It is eat more pork. We’d really appreciate it. Because I’ll tell you what, our folks are being patriots here.”  

Trump administration officials from USDA and the United States Trade Representative’s office also had time to address attendees.

Ambassador Gregg Doud, Chief Agricultural Negotiator, USTR: “That’s our job at USTR, to have very, very frank conversations with other countries.”

USTR’s Gregg Doud says he’s been going non-stop since his confirmation in March. He says the president is concerned about two countries who hold 40 percent of the world’s consumers – India and China – and how those two nations refuse to play by rules.

Ambassador Gregg Doud, Chief Agricultural Negotiator, USTR: “China hasn’t even told us one thing they’ve been spending since 2010. Since 2010. So they want us to enter into these dialogs and discussions but they want to operate on a different set of rules. I think we’re going to provide more leadership in that area to provide in those discussions.”

Doud adds more tariffs will likely be coming that are unrelated to agriculture but have the potential to impact the industry. Trade practices relating to steel, aluminum and intellectual property are the administration’s three biggest complaints about the world’s 2nd largest economy.

The U.S. and Argentina have been talking about a trade deal since 1992 which highlights how creating policy is never simple.

Neil Dierks, CEO, NPPC: “But these kind of things take time to resolve. For instance, we talk about doing bilateral deals we all have to have a perspective here. You don’t start work on a Friday and get done the following Tuesday. They take time. And this is a long game view, in the long term, and be done exports mean opportunities for hog farmers, for rural America.”

Ambassador Gregg Doud, Chief Agricultural Negotiator, USTR: “In agriculture, we play offense on trade. You’ve got to continue to push to move forward on these issues. We’ve got to begin to negotiate with other countries in getting new deals.”

David Herring, President-Elect, NPPC: Dave/President Elect of NPPC: in NC: “We’re going over some rocky times right now, but we’re still really positive. When you look at the metrics out there, there’s more pork getting consumed out in the world today than ever.  And there’s more demand for our pork. When we get through these rocky times, the capital that’s been put in the industry will be well spent.”

For Market to Market, I’m Paul Yeager.

Contact: Paul.Yeager@IPTV.org

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