Minnesota Pork Producers React To Chinese Tariffs

April 02, 2018 05:46 PM

Minnesota pork producers are raising concerns over a new tariff imposed by China.

The announcement came Monday that pork exports from the U.S. will be slapped with a 25 percent tariff, in response to tariffs imposed on Chinese steel and aluminum in March.


RELATED: China Raises Tariffs on US Pork, Fruit in Trade Dispute

While China is halfway around the world, hog farmers like Lori Stevermer said this newly-imposed tariff hits home. 

"It's our livelihood," Stevermer said. "It's what our farm's been doing for just over 100 years."

With her husband, Stevermer runs Trails End Farm in Easton, Minnesota. The barns are empty right now, as the farm prepares to receive 2000 hogs next week.

Minnesota Agriculture: By the Numbers

But now, it's unclear what those next round of hogs will bring to market in the wake of the tariff.

"China is actually our number two export market in terms of value," Stevermer said. "If we can't export as much to China, those products will have to go somewhere else and probably at a lesser price."

The move makes producers in Minnesota nervous, where last year $717 million in pork products were exported internationally, according to the state's department of agriculture.

"There's pork on ships right now going across the ocean that are probably going to be affected by these tariffs," Stevermer said. "Anything that disrupts that export or has a chance to lower the price of the products that we receive in the international market obviously affects our business and our future.

Stevermer said price changes create a ripple effect.

"When farmers do well, they're able to reinvest in their facilities, they're able to use those local businesses to get supplies from," she said. "Especially for those small town, rural communities where there's not a lot of business. Most of them are ag focused. It's really integral."

Stevermer said hopefully, leaders in the U.S. and China can come back to the table and find an agreement that works for everyone.


Kirsten Swanson

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