Timing of China trade war may be perfect

Trade, tariffs and exports.

These topics seem to be currently top of mind of every U.S. ag producer; when they’re not talking about flooding, that is. Trade, or lack of, with China gains headlines as the tariff tit-for-tat has put a big bullseye on the back of every farmer in the United States, greatly reducing the prices received for commodities.

As Steve Meyer, Kerns and Associates, put it in his recent Market Preview column: “The three driving forces of this hog market remain China, China and China. Getting the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement ratified would help some with Mexico, but Mexico pales in comparison to China. The numbers now being thrown around are staggering. It is likely that China’s production reduction for this year will be larger than the United States’ entire production.”   

Let that sink in: the production losses in China from African swine fever are larger than the entire U.S. hog production. The Chinese, as with all of Asia, has a hunger for pork, and there is none better than what you, the American pig farmer can give them. But, we can only get the great tasting, healthful U.S. pork on Chinese consumers’ tables if/when these tariffs get straightened out.

I am a firm believer of things happening for a reason, and also that timing is a key element. Yes, this trade squabble between the United States and China does need to get ironed out, but maybe we are experiencing perfect timing in this dispute.

Much as been said of how ASF is spreading across Asia, and many on this side of the globe are skeptical of just how accurate the outbreak reports are (i.e. underreported). We have also heard of how we fear that ASF will make the journey from the ASF-hotbed (China), possibly piggybacking with an imported feedstuff or in a pork product that a tourist brings back from an ASF-infected country. (Again, remember that ASF is not transmissible to humans through consumption of ASF-contaminated meat)

With the ability of ASF to potentially make its way to our shores through various means, the timing of the reduced trade with China may just be a good thing. This may give us time to plot and solidify a good strategy to keep America ASF-free. We cannot wait for China to get control of ASF, so we need to be proactive on our end.

One way to do that is to make sure that your barn, your farm, your network is registered and compliant with the Secure Pork Supply Plan. As said before, timing is everything, and the time for you to participate in the SPS plan is now. Do not wait for ASF to slip through the cracks at the ports or airports.

A large component of the SPS plan is biosecurity, and your farm should already have a stringent plan in place. If you don’t what are you waiting for? If you need another reminder, here’s a link to the National Pork Board’s best management practices for biosecurity.

Take the time to beef up your farm’s biosecurity to keep the pork supply moving and safe.