U.S. pig farmers continue to take a hit as President Donald Trump engages America’s trade partners with increasingly hostile policies – the president’s latest move has already cost pork producers in Iowa about $560 million.
Iowa pork producers already dealing with a 25 percent tariff on U.S. pork exports to China could face another trade hit, with Mexico considering a 20 percent tariff on hams and pork shoulders.
Growing trade worries have cut pork prices in recent weeks, costing Iowa producers about $560 million, said Dermot Hayes, an Iowa State University economist.
Should Mexico move forward with the proposed tariff, U.S. farmers could lose out on their number one market for port exports – America’s southern neighbor bought $1.5 billion worth of pork last year, followed closely by China, which purchased $1.1 billion.
The tariffs are "potentially devastating news for Iowa’s pig farmers and the rural Iowa economy," said Gregg Hora, president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association.
"We’ve worked many years, spent a lot of time and money building trade relationships to expand markets in Canada, Mexico and other key economic trading countries," Hora said.
"We’re concerned about the loss of market share we’ve built up over the years," he said, adding that he hopes U.S. trade officials "rectify this situation immediately."
Iowa is the heart of pork production in the U.S., raising 40 to 50 million hogs each year, according to USA Today – and the Iowa Pork Producers Association said foreign exports account for about 27 percent of the industry’s sales.
The latest threat to pork profits comes after Trump imposed steep tariffs on steel and aluminum coming from America’s allies, a decision that looks to bring retaliation from Mexico, Canada, and the European Union.