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Exports continue to support pork industry

By Jennifer Carrico

Exports continue to be a bright spot for United States hog producers.

Becca Hendricks, assistant vice president of international marketing for the National Pork Board, said the U.S. surpassed the European Union for the top pork exporter in the world in 2012. She was one of three speakers at the export issues and world markets seminar during the recent World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa.

“Exports totaled $6.3 billion in sales in 2012 and were up 3.5 percent over the previous year. Some of that increase is thanks to added exports to countries which we have new trading agreements,” she said. “We export 4.984 billion pounds of pork to 115 different countries.”

She said the export markets add $55 per head in value to producers. The popularity of U.S. pork is due to the meat having consistently high-quality, nutrient-dense meat, as well as excellent food safety.

Laurie Hueneke, director of international trade policy for the National Pork Producers Council, said they are using science-based trade information to impact the producer’s bottom line when setting policy regarding exports.

“Many countries use artificial or unscientific barriers for trade barriers, which have no affect on the meat,” Hueneke said. “While this is frustrating, we have to deal with it.”

The Trans Pacific Partnership is a free trade agreement involves 11 countries and targets the fastest growing economic region. By reducing tariffs, it helps make U.S. pork more competitive. She said an agreement is expected this fall.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is an agreement between the U.S. and the 27 countries of the EU. Negotiations are set to start in the summer of 2013.

Hueneke said the major barriers on trade agreements include tariff rate quotas, meeting health requirements, prohibition on pathogen reduction treatments and plant approvals.

In February, Russia implemented a complete ban on imports of U.S. pork, beef and turkey with no science-based reason. They said they want no ractomine (Paylean) fed to animals they are importing meat from.

Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes said export markets are very sensitive to trade opportunities.

“It makes more sense and is more efficient to export pork from where the most efficient place is to feed them,” he said. “It is easier to produce pork where the feed is and the manure has value.”

Many trade partners want to buy pork that has been through a Trichinae certification program. While the meat that goes through this program may cost more, it doesn’t change the amount the meat is sold for.

“So many of the markets want Trichinae-free pork that it is becoming a required test in order to keep U.S. pork available to many different export markets,” he said. “Some market barriers are higher and require more testing and thus more cost to the producers. Some of those markets are hard to compete with.”

Hueneke said the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) met recently to discuss the Trichinae program and how to make the certification easier for everyone who is exporting pork.

“We continually work toward accessing markets to gain negligible risk status,” she said.

Working toward Trichinae prevention means properly protected herds with strict biosecurity and rodent control.

Hayes said when others around the world rely on someone else for their food, they will have more security knowing where their food is grown.

Expanding export opportunities means the NPB and NPPC has set priorities with China being the number one opportunity, followed by Japan and Mexico, in order to keep the export market supporting pork prices in the U.S.

Jennifer Carrico can be reached by phone at 515-833-2120, or by email at jcarrico@hpj.com.

Date: 7/22/2013

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