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View from the Cab: All about trade

The annual meeting of the Illinois Pork Producers Association is shown last week in Springfield / CIFN photo.

Trade seems to work for agriculture and let’s keep it that way.

That was one of the messages conveyed at last week’s annual meeting of the Illinois Pork Producers Association. Maria C. Zieba, director of international affairs for the National Pork Producers Council, was a keynote speaker.

Zieba noted that international trade promotes rural prosperity and adds $53 to the price of each hog marketed. Also, over 100,000 jobs depend on U.S. exports and our pork goes to countries of all sizes. We actually export more pork to Honduras than the whole European Union combined.

NAFTA, which stands for the North American Free Trade Agreement, is important to agriculture and Zieba acknowledged the rhetoric surrounding the topic. If the agreement goes away, those states which voted for Donald Trump would be hit the hardest. Renegotiating began last year however termination is still an option.

“There are quite a few issues we are hitting a wall on,” Zieba said.

The next round of negotiations is set for Feb. 26 in Mexico City. Zieba believes wages are at the heart of why we need to update the agreement. Market access remains a big sticking point. There is also plenty of uncertainty around the world with our own midterm elections coming up along with an election in Mexico. If NAFTA was eliminated today, we would lose big with Mexico.

“The industry would compress by at least five percent,” Zieba noted.

Free trade agreements tend to level the playing field, making it beneficial for all of the parties involved. KORUS is a fairly new free trade agreement, but the U.S. pork industry has not seen all of the benefits just yet. If KORUS was terminated, it would cost producers $4.71 per animal.

“We averted the crisis of withdrawal.”

It was great seeing everyone at last week’s Illinois Pork Expo in Springfield and congratulations to Livingston County’s own Mike Haag for being named IPPA president for 2018. IPPA represents more than 2,000 pork producers around Illinois and the state’s pork industry, which contributes over $1.8 billion and more than 10,500 jobs to the state’s economy.

(The View from the Cab blog is powered each week by Petersen Chevy-Buick of Fairbury)

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