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Trade tensions heat up

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Trade tensions are expected to rise this week, as China and Mexico plan to slap additional tariffs on United States goods.

Mexico intends to implement its second phase of tariffs. The tariffs target roughly $3 billion worth of U.S. product, including cheese, pork hams and shoulders, sausages, apples, frozen potatoes and cranberries, orange juice and whiskey.

China prepares to retaliate to the United States’ decision to impose a 25-percent tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods on Friday. The nation will reciprocate with dollar-to-dollar tariffs, affecting U.S. soybeans and automobiles.

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) says its members are facing “severe financial challenges” because of the tariffs. NPPC spokesperson Jim Monroe talks about the impact of retaliatory tariffs.

“Beginning of March/end of May, you saw live hog futures drop by about $18 per animal. At an annualized basis, that amounts to over $2 billion in annualized losses,” Monroe said.

Monroe says the disruptions are erupting in key U.S. pork markets.

“Last year, we exported a little over $1 billion to China and about $1.5 billion to Mexico,” Monroe said. “Obviously, very important markets to us. All we’re seeking is the chance to compete in those markets on a level playing field.”

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) commented on the trade tiff during last week’s debate. He says the Trump Administration’s trade tactics are impacting agriculture and everybody up and down the food chain.

“I dearly hope the President is successful with trade negotiations,” Roberts said. “I know the Administration is trying to send a very strong message and reduce the trade deficit, but the moment that happens, there’s retaliation. And 90-percent of the time, retaliation comes at Ag.”