Hog farmers increasingly worried about prospects
American firms, producers are concerned China, world's biggest pork market, will find new customers and stay with them even after trade dispute is settled
MINNEAPOLIS, United States - US pork farmers are increasingly worried that their longtime efforts to secure a foothold in China are vaporizing, due to continued trade disputes between the world's two largest economies.
The protracted trade tensions may dampen the outlook for their access to China, the world's biggest pork market, and consequently cripple the entire industry.
"Without a doubt, we would love to have access to the Chinese market... There's a tremendous demand in China, and we can certainly fill some of that demand," David Preisler, chief executive officer of the Minnesota Pork Producers Association, told Xinhua News Agency.
"Unfortunately, it's unrealized potential at this point. We can't necessarily control that," said the industry leader, adding that "the biggest hope, first of all, is that the United States and China can work something out".
He made the remarks at Minnesota Farmfest, a large-scale agricultural trade show concluded in the Midwest US state on Aug 8, where trade issues were a hot topic.
US hog farmers have been suffering during the US-China trade rifts, which started more than a year ago.
Since 2018, the US administration has placed several rounds of punitive tariffs on Chinese imports. In retaliation to the moves, US pork entering China is among the US imports that have been levied by the Chinese side.
According to the US authorities, American hog farmers are estimated to be losing out on $1 billion annually due to the trade tensions with China.
David Herring, president of the National Pork Producers Council, told a US House Agriculture subcommittee in a hearing last month that retaliatory tariffs imposed by China and other countries are "one of the most damaging threats" to his industry.
Preisler told Xinhua that his team has currently projected "a slight profit" for the coming year, down from a previous estimate of "about $20 to $25 per head" three weeks ago.
"It's been negative toward the futures market and that's just an indication of what the market thinks prices are going to be in the future," he added.
More than 25 percent of the country's total pork production is exported, with China being a major buyer, according to data from the US Meat Export Federation.
In terms of volume, Mexico and Japan are the two largest export markets for US pork, Preisler said, "prior to the trade disputes, China would be right up there".