China is the world’s largest consumer of pork products, but experts estimate by the end of the year, African Swine Fever will cut pork output in China in half. Mike Paustian of Walcott, the president-elect of the Iowa Pork Producers Association, says farmers here could step in and meet Chinese demand for pork — if the Trump Administration strikes a trade deal with China.
“I’m hoping it’s not going to turn into a giant game of chicken here and see who’s going to blink first and it’s certainly not sounding encouraging that there’s going to be a quick resolution to this and we’ve kind of been teased several times that something was going to happen and nothing’s happened yet and that’s where I think there’s some frustration building.” Paustian says pork producers are having a hard time planning for the future when they don’t know whether China’s market will reopen to pork.
“That’s kind of the most frustrating thing is everybody’s kind of playing the waiting game right now to see how things shake out,” Paustian says, “before they start pulling the trigger on some of their long-term investments.”
Paustian says the U.S. is starting to fall behind in other countries that are important markets for pork. He cites Japan’s recent free trade pact with the European Union. Paustian says there are other countries in southeast Asia where more U.S. pork could be sold if trade deals are struck — and sales to those emerging markets could help soften the blow of pork exports that aren’t going to China.