Wednesday, April 17, 2019

U.S. pork and poultry industries seek inroads in trade talks

The United States and China have been in trade talks for months in an effort to end the trade war that has been hurting American farmers. The U.S. pork industry is hoping for a favorable resolution to one particular request: American negotiators want China to lift its ban on ractopamine, a drug about half of U.S. pork producers use to boost hog growth, Chris Prentice and Tom Polansek report for Reuters.

"Huge losses in China’s hog herd due to African swine fever have left the world’s largest pork market facing a protein deficit, stoking hopes among U.S. pork and poultry producers," Prentice and Polansek report. "Up to 200 million pigs could be culled or die from infections as the disease spreads through China, reducing the nation’s pork output by 30 percent from 2019."

Because of that loss, Iowa State University agricultural economist Dermot Hayes predicts China will need import 4 to 6 million tons of pork in 2020. That could strengthen America's hand in negotiations, according to independent U.S. livestock market analyst Bob Brown: "I think that China will do anything possible to make it easier for them to import protein."

The U.S. has also asked China to once again allow imports of U.S. poultry and eggs, which it banned in January 2015 because of an avian flu outbreak that is long over. "China lifted a similar restriction on poultry from France last month, and last year dropped duties on U.S. white-feathered broiler chickens. A total lifting of the ban would reopen the gates for U.S. poultry to compete in the world’s largest, and best-paying, market for products like chicken feet," Prentice and Polansek report. "While it looks increasingly likely China may lift its ban on U.S. poultry, Beijing is seeking a 'two-way street' and would want to be able to export some poultry products to the United States as well, two sources said."

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