U.S. pig farmers have lately been buoyed by expectation of a soaring demand from China, as it is projected that the number of pigs raised in China, the world's biggest consumer of pork, will be halved by the end of this year due to the African swine fever outbreak. However, an intensifying trade war between the United States and China has dashed American pig farmers' hope.
China on Tuesday announced a halt to new purchases of U.S. agricultural products after U.S. President Donald Trump vowed last week to impose new tariffs on Chinese goods starting in September, dimming the outlook for exports of U.S. pork to China. According to the Wall Street Journal, the National Pork Producers Council complained that U.S. pig farmers are unable to take advantage of the unprecedented sales opportunity in China because of the trade war that has been dragging on for over a year.
Concerns are growing in the U.S. over China's weaponizing the agricultural market. Reuters quoted Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau, as saying that China's decision to limit U.S. agriculture imports will deliver a "body blow to the thousands of farmers and ranchers."
China is the fourth biggest buyer of U.S. agricultural products after Mexico, Canada and Japan. U.S. farmers are suffering from falling prices and dwindling incomes due to China's retaliatory tariff. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. exported 9.15 billion U.S. dollars' worth of agricultural products to China last year, down 53 percent from the previous year. According to an analysis by University of Missouri, U.S. soybeans exports to China totaled 27.7 million tons from September 2017 to May 2018, dropping by more than 70 percent to 7 million tons during the same nine-month period between 2018 and 2019.
To Trump, who will run for his second term in office in next year's presidential election, Farm Belt voters are essential. In May, the White House announced a 16-billion-dollar aid package for farmers. On Tuesday (local time), the U.S. president wrote on his Twitter account, "As they have learned in the last two years, our great American Farmers know that China will not be able to hurt them in that their President has stood with them and done what no other president would do - And I'll do it again next year if necessary!"
Yong Park email@example.com