WASHINGTON- Trent Thiele, president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association, testified in front of the Senate Agriculture Committee on Sept. 25 on various US pork industry issues.

Thiele, who was also representing the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), said top priorities for pork producers include trade certainty and ratification of the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA).

 “USMCA will strengthen the strong economic ties with our North American neighbors and help ensure tariff-free trade on pork remains in place for the long term,” Thiele said. “US pork producers urge Congress to ratify USMCA, providing much-needed certainty in two of our largest export markets.”

A trade deal with China was also mentioned as a way to help US pork producers. Currently, the world’s largest pork consuming nation is under a hog shortage due to the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak.

Thiele stated in his written testimony that the recent Chinese media reports about trade suggest US pork tariff relief, producers need market access uncertainty removed and a level playing field.

“China holds more potential than any other market in the world for increased US pork sales,” Thiele said. “There is an unprecedented sales opportunity for US pork producers in China, as that country continues to battle the spread of ASF and experiences a major reduction in domestic production. Were it not for the retaliatory duties on US pork, we would be in an ideal position to meet China’s need for increased pork imports and single handedly put a huge dent in the US trade imbalance with China too.”

The pork industry received some good news later in the day after the US and Japan moved closer to finalizing an agreement. Japan is the largest value export market for US pork.

Additionally, Thiele and US pork producers are worried about foreign animal diseases and urged Congress to add 600 additional agricultural inspectors at border and ports.

Another priority emphasized by the NPPC was the ongoing labor shortage on farms and packing plants. The trade association said it supported visa system reform that gives “agricultural employers sustained access to year-round labor.”