The pork industry is taking a one, two punch following President Trump’s latest announcement to implement tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Mexico, Canada, and the European Union. On Tuesday Mexico levied punitive tariffs – 10 percent effective immediately, escalating to 20 percent – on unprocessed pork (not including variety meats) in retaliation. Mexico’s decision follows similar retaliation in early April by China, which imposed additional 25 percent tariffs on U.S. pork, reducing live hog values by as much as $18 per animal on an annualized basis.
“The toll on rural America from escalating trade disputes with critically important trade partners is mounting. Mexico is U.S. pork’s largest export market, representing nearly 25 percent of all U.S. pork shipments last year. A 20 percent tariff eliminates our ability to compete effectively in Mexico. This is devastating to my family and pork producing families across the United States,” said Jim Heimerl, NPPC president and a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio.
“We appreciate the variety of interests and issues the Trump administration is balancing in its trade negotiations with Mexico, China, and other countries. While producers are trying to be good soldiers, we’re taking on water fast. The president has said that he would not abandon farmers. We take him at his word.”
The U.S. pork sector sustains more than 500,000 jobs across rural America. More than 110,000 of these jobs are directly tied to exports of American pork.
The pork industry is not the only industry to stand in the crossfires of the potential trade war with Mexico. Their list includes apples, potatoes, bourbon, and cheese.
“These tariffs will exact immediate and painful consequences on many American farmers. Hog, apple, potato, and dairy farmers are among those suddenly facing a 10 or 20 percent tax hike on the exports they depend of for their livelihoods. Farmers need certainty and open markets to make ends meet. Right now they are getting chaos and protectionism,” said Farmers for Free Trade Deputy Director Angela Hofmann. “The Mexican market has been a windfall from American farmers. Over the last 25 years, American exports to Mexico have increased five fold. Escalating trade tensions that have resulted in today’s tariffs put that growth at risk. These are self-inflicted wounds. Farmers deserve better.”