Potential growth opportunities for American farm exports

President Dan Halstrom addresses USMEF members at the organization’s Spring Conference Meeting in Kansas City.

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

Tim Waibel, a Minnesota Corn Growers Association board member and a farmer in Courtland, heard about the latest developments in trade, updates on African Swine Fever, and more at the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Spring Conference in Kansas City.

Waibel and his family raise hogs, along with corn and soybeans. For the Waibel family and farmers nationwide, ratification of the proposed United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) would be welcome news, assuring producers that their two biggest export markets will remain open for business with plenty of customers ready to buy.

Among the specifics of the agreement: Mexico has removed retaliatory duties on U.S. pork, and Canada has dropped a 10% duty on prepared beef products. Also potentially helping producers stateside is the United State-Japan Trade Agreement. In the proposed agreement, Japan has lifted longstanding restrictions on U.S. beef exports that put America at a competitive disadvantage to Europe. The new marketing in Japan could be worth $150 to $200 million, annually.

Also at the USMEF Spring Conference, one of the most important developments in the world meat supply is the African Swine Fever crisis in China, which is the world’s largest hog producer. The country has lost more than a million hogs and some estimates say losses could run to 200 million animals before the epidemic plays out. By comparison, America typically has a herd of about 60 million hogs.

Waibel learned that the current epidemic is actually the second wave of African Swine Fever losses among Chinese hog producers. After a first occurrence of the disease, hog producers there had been trying to rebuild their herds when the disease struck again with even more brutal results. Pork has been China’s favorite protein source, but in the wake of the latest devastation, many of the hog barns across China are being refitted to raise chickens. With that, more Chinese are now relying on poultry and eggs for their protein intake.

As China’s pork production recovers, Waibel said the country may need to increase their reliance on trade to fulfill the country’s demand—another reason American producers hope trade negotiations with China will be concluded sooner rather than later.

The Minnesota Corn Growers Association is a member of the U.S. Meat Export Federation and supports its mission to increase demand for U.S. livestock industries. Livestock feed remains the largest market for American corn.

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