The National Pork Producers responded to President Trump’s plan to impose a five percent tariff on all Mexican imports by June 10. NPPC President David Herring appealed to Trump to reconsider his plans to open a new trade dispute with Mexico. “American pork producers cannot afford retaliatory tariffs from its largest export market which Mexico will surely implement,” he says. “Over the last year, trade disputes with Mexico and China have cost hard-working U.S. pork producers and their families about $2.5 billion.”
Herring is asking Washington to move forward with ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement and preserve zero-tariff pork trade in North America for the long term. “We’re also asking for a trade agreement with Japan,” he says, “as well as a resolution to the trade dispute with China. U.S. pork has a historic opportunity to make inroads into the Chinese market as the country continues to struggle with the African Swine Fever outbreak.” For most of the past year, American pork farmers have lost about $12 per hog due to trade retaliation by Mexico, which recently lifted the retaliatory tariffs last week.
Those numbers come directly from Iowa State University Economist Dermot Hayes, who says U.S. pork producers will lose the entire Mexican market if they face protracted retaliation. Mexico brought in 20 percent of total U.S. pork exports last year.
President Trump announced his intention to impose a five percent tariff on Mexican imports because of illegal immigration. He vows to keep those tariffs in place until Mexico stops illegal immigrants from entering the U.S. through the southern border.
The proposed move will take effect on June 10 and doesn’t give Mexico a lot of time to react to it. Trump says the levy “would gradually increase until the illegal immigration problem is remedied, at which time the tariff will be removed.” The tariffs could potentially go as high as 25 percent by October 1. The move comes just days after Trump removed the tariffs on steel and aluminum imports that caused direct retaliation against U.S. farm goods. Economists are warning that the move could be extremely negative for both countries.
Bloomberg describes the initial reaction from Mexican officials as “measured.” Mexican President Obrador said in a letter to Trump on Twitter that he “doesn’t want confrontation.” Mexico’s foreign minister and other officials were scheduled to visit Washington D.C. last week in order to come to an agreement.
Mexico’s undersecretary for foreign relations for North America told reporters that Mexico wouldn’t retaliate before discussing the matter with the U.S. However, if Trump follows through on the threat, the undersecretary says that “would be a very serious matter.”
American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall commented on President Trump’s immigration proposal saying,
“Farm Bureau welcomes President Trump’s focus on fixing our nation’s broken immigration system. However, nowhere is reform more critical than in the agricultural sector. Labor shortages now are being felt by farmers and ranchers across the country, in dairy, fruits and vegetables, mushroom, livestock and other sectors. We will not relent in our fight to ensure that a solution to our agricultural labor needs is included in any immigration reform package.
“Farm Bureau economists issued two detailed studies of this problem over the last decade. In the more recent report, in 2014, looking at potential losses in vegetable, livestock, fruit and grain production, estimated losses range as high as $60 billion. A reformed agricultural guest worker program that is flexible and affordable for farmers, fair to workers and effective in meeting the needs of all producers is critical. We also need to provide current workers the opportunity to earn legal status. These workers are essential to our nation’s food production.
“This is a difficult issue and there are no easy solutions. We applaud the Administration and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who are tackling the problem. We look forward to working with them to advance solutions that allow us to continue growing our food within our borders.”