U.S. Pork Industry at the Tip of the Spear

Trade issues with China can’t be resolved fast enough, said Dave Herring, North Carolina pork producer and president of the National Pork Producers Council, on AgriTalk with Chip Flory on April 4.

“The indications we're seeing right now looks like we're getting closer,” Herring said. “If we could get the trade dispute settled with China, it would really open up some doors and create tremendous opportunities. And we need those opportunities.”

U.S. pork is at the “tip of the spear” when it comes to China and Mexico trade issues, Flory said.

“You can look at it two ways,” Herring said. “It’s fortunate. It’s unfortunate. When you're really good and efficient at what you do, like U.S. pork and grain farmers, you have a large demand for your product. But when you get in these trade disputes, unfortunately, you're at the tip of the spear and you get retaliated against first.”

Flory asked Herring what he would say if he had a chance to sit down for coffee with the president.

“Last year we exported a little over a billion and a half dollars worth of pork to Mexico last year, almost 20% percent of total exports, and probably 40% of the hams from the U.S., Canada, Mexico,” Herring said. “We’ve got to keep those doors open and keep the trade flowing.”

He noted that U.S. producers ship a lot of hams to Mexico, and China buys a large amount of U.S. pork offal product, which adds about $8 in value to every hog produced in the U.S. In addition, it’s on products China desires and the U.S. does not, so it’s a win for both parties.

With a little momentum in the markets these days, expansion talk is ramping up, Flory said. Is now the right time to expand?

“I think the future is bright,” Herring said. “There's one thing about it, when we have an opportunity in agriculture – especially livestock agriculture – to grow, our farm families innovate, they get more efficient, and it just makes it a better situation in rural America.”

Herring will be in Washington, D.C., this week at the spring Legislative Action Conference, along with producers from all over the country, meeting with congressmen and legislators. 

“We cannot get an agreement with Japan fast enough,” Herring said. “We need to get the trade disputes with China and Mexico finished. We need to get USMCA ratified – I would love to see that happen. I think our future in the livestock industry, especially pork, is going to look up.”


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