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Tariffs and Trade Wars Cause Concern as World Pork Expo Gets Underway

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  "It's scary, but I have to trust that there are people that know more than I know about trade wars," said Kevin Rasmussen of KLR Pork, a farrow-to-finish swine enterprise in Humboldt County. Rasmussen is optimistic about the future of the U.S. pork industry.

"I do believe the people in this world have gotten a taste of what really good fresh pork tastes like,"said Rasmussen. "And if it goes up a little bit in price, are they willing to pay the more price? I believe they will."

But some industry experts say there is cause for concern.

"Dermot Hayes of Iowa State University has stated it's gonna have a $12.50 up to $14 per pig cost to us as to that money that we will not get from the market," said Gregg Hora, President of the Iowa Pork Producers Association. "So yes, we are concerned about any duties or tariffs in retaliation on U.S. pork."

Hora says a lot of work has gone into establishing relationships with trading partners in North America and around the world, and the pork industry in Iowa has been built up significantly.

"We generally grow 3-4 percent per year of not just production numbers, but also efficiencies and output," said Hora. "So with that we've built up an economic system here in Iowa with jobs, investment and here at the World Pork Expo, you can sure see the vendors that are here, that are investing not only new technologies, but farmers are buying those technologies."

That's why the National Pork Producers Council is trying to convince the Trump Administration that trade agreements like NAFTA are critical to the success of pork producers.

"So, in terms of dollars, last year we exported over one and a half billion dollars to Canada and Mexico," said Maria Zieba, Director of International Affairs for NPPC. "It is vital that we maintain what we have within NAFTA."