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Could NAFTA changes affect Canada and Iowa pork producers?

Changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement could affect how Canada’s and Iowa’s pork industries do business. Anything affecting the American hog markets has a trickledown effect on Canadian markets.

“Where the [United States] depends on about 20 percent of production going into the export market. Sixty or 70 percent of Canadian pork needs to be exported,” Florian Possberg, Chair of Saskatchewan Pork Development Board said.

Possberg is a hog producer near Humboldt, Saskatchewan. He raises 14,000 sows and they produce 7,000 pigs weekly. 5,000 of those go to the United States every week. This includes early-weaned pigs going to northwest Iowa.

“It’s a big part of our business and a major part of our business,” Possberg said. “What we know is that Iowa is more efficient at finishing hogs [along with] slaughtering and processing hogs than anyone else in the world.”

Canada is known for their high health status in the hog industry along with high quality genetics that perform well. Possberg said this relationship between not only the U.S. but Iowa and Canada works well because he raises the pigs and sends them down to Iowa for finishing.

“Raising the pigs there or getting pigs to weaning stage and then sending them to the United States where another hog farmer here is raising them to market, that model works for them and we don’t want any disruption of that either,” Dave Warner of National Pork Producers Council said.

President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and now wants a “speedy overhaul” of NAFTA but Warner thinks “this isn’t about ripping up a 23-year-old agreement” it’s about making it better. “But I think what we have now is fine,” Warner said.

“If I can read President Trump properly,” Possberg said. “He is more concerned about fair trade and his belief seems to be these agreements are not fair. I think most of our agriculture products are already traded fairly. I am confident any renegotiation of NAFTA will not have a direct impact on us.”

Possberg feels President Trump is more concerned about Mexico rather than Canada.