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China trade war: Missed opportunity for Minnesota pork producers

Eric Rasmussen
Updated: December 02, 2019 06:49 PM
Created: December 02, 2019 04:01 PM

A highly contagious foreign pig disease known as African Swine Fever (ASF) has reportedly taken out as many as half of the pigs in China, creating a huge demand for pork from other countries.

However, Minnesota pig farmers say they've been unable to cash in on the opportunity because of the United States' ongoing trade war with China.

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Citing new analysis of the market by Iowa State University Economist Dermot Hayes, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) says "unrestricted access" to China could generate 184,000 new jobs and $24.5 billion in sales over the next decade.

As the number two pork-producing state in the U.S., Minnesota would stand to feel a significant part of the economic boon.

"If we had access to that market, the profits we capture we're going to spend on jobs or on main street or in our small rural towns," pig farmer Greg Boerboom said. He is also the president of the Minnesota Pork Producers Association.

5 INVESTIGATES first toured Boerboom's farm in Marshall in March of this year. At the time, much of the focus was on keeping ASF out of the United States. Just one case of the disease in the U.S. could cost Minnesota's economy $1 billion a year.

Billion dollar threat: Foreign pig disease could paralyze Minnesota economy

While no cases of ASF have been detected in the U.S. so far, farmers such as Boerboom have been frustrated because they've been unable to take advantage of the increased demand from China, the world's largest pork consumer.

"The fact of the matter is, we see a market there just staring us in the face that we can't access," Boerboom said. "We're kind of breaking even right now… the whole ag community is struggling."

Last month, the NPPC launched a digital campaign to increase awareness of what it calls the "unique" opportunity for U.S. pork in China.


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