Trade Tensions Felt Across the U.S.

It's hard enough for pig farmers to make money without having trade disputes that close markets for U.S. pork ( The Maschhoffs )

An article in the Indianapolis Business Journal recently spotlighted a young hog producer in Hendricks County, Indiana, and how the issues of trade are impacting his business.

“People say there are no winners in trade wars—but you can be a loser twice,” said David Hardin in the article. He produces pigs with his father in a family business. “There are ripple effects all the way through the ag economy when you have something like this happen.” 

He's referring to the China trade tariff on U.S. pork. He knows how important trade is to the overall profitability of pig farmers across the country. It’s especially critical in agricultural states.

China wasn’t likely to import as much U.S. pork in 2018 as it had the previous year, because it presently has a glut of domestic pork. But trade wars send a bad message to trading partners, making them think the U.S. is unreliable. It’s one of the reasons Mexico and Japan, for example, are putting together bilateral agreements with the European Community.

Indiana is the nation’s top steel-producing state as well as being the most dependent on manufacturing, which relies on steel, the Indianapolis Business Journal article said.

“It’s a complex situation. Some of the tariffs have already been implemented while others might not be, if the two countries can reach an agreement,” the article said. “The recently enacted tariffs are helping Hoosier industries in some cases, while hurting in others.”

Hardin noted that he has seen the cost of inputs like steel grain bins, gating and other steel-related items increase, which forced him to delay some purchases.

Hardin said the operation he co-owns with his father is “a very small drop in a very large bucket,” producing about 12,000 market hogs per year.

Located near Danville, Hardin Farms has been operating for three generations.

“Our family has been farming in the Hendricks/Marion county area continuously since 1827,” Hardin said on Indiana’s Family of Farmers website. “My grandfather was the one who started our focus on swine over the other livestock species.“

Although on farming website Hardin said he enjoys the challenges and opportunities associated with farming, neither he nor other pig farmers need the added challenge of wondering if export markets will stay open to their products.