Pork Industry Faces Key Challenges in Production, Trade

The U.S. pork industry is facing key challenges in production and trade amid the war in Ukraine, the pandemic, and the Biden Administration’s resistance to new free trade deals. Pandemic bottlenecks and disease threats like African Swine Fever are not the only problems the U.S. pork industry is facing.

National Pork Producers’ President Terry Wolters says input costs are getting aggravated by the war in Ukraine. “Corn was high priced before the war broke out. Those input costs were already on the rise. The impact is next year, in a pretty big way, whether the people of Ukraine get a crop planted and whether that crop can get harvested. I think, a year from now, that future impact is yet to be seen.”

Corn producers here are also facing soaring fertilizer prices, again under supply pressure before the war and made worse by embargoes against Russia, a key producer of fertilizer chemicals. And despite record pork exports last year, NPPC told lawmakers last week that the pork industry is missing a huge trade opportunity. Wolters; “What is now the CPTPP program, we once were in that program as TPP, but the Trump administration pulled out of that program, and so, we are urging to get back into that. Those 11 countries in that trade block represent 55 million consumers.”

But White House resistance and party differences in Congress over new trade deals have complicated the issue. Wolters; “On trade, I think you’ve got mixed feelings around trade. I think they recognize that trade is important to the industry, but we obviously have many challenges. It’s a complex issue—there’s no easy answer.”

Another tough issue is immigration reform and the need for more Ag labor for longer periods: an issue made even tougher in an election year.

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