WASHINGTON, D.C., July 24, 2018 – The National Pork Producers Council commends President Trump for taking steps to provide much-needed relief to American farmers in the crosshairs of global trade retaliation. The following statement may be attributed to NPPC President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio.
“President Trump has said he has the back of U.S. farmers and today demonstrated this commitment with an aid package to sustain American agriculture cutoff from critical export markets as his administration works to realign U.S. global trade policy.
“U.S. pork, which began the year in expansion mode to capitalize on unprecedented global demand, now faces punitive tariffs on 40 percent of its exports. The restrictions we face in critical markets such as Mexico and China – our top two export markets by volume last year – have placed American pig farmers and their families in dire financial straits. We thank the president for taking immediate action.
“While we recognize the complexities of resetting U.S. trade policy, we hope that U.S. pork will soon regain the chance to compete on a level playing field in markets around the globe. We have established valuable international trading relationships that have helped offset the U.S. trade deficit and fueled America’s rural economy.”
U.S. Pork Depends on Exports
The following facts and figures reflect U.S. pork’s critical dependence on exports:
- Over the past 10 years, the United States, on average, has been the top exporter of pork in the world; it is the globe’s lowest-cost producer of pork.
- U.S. pork producers last year shipped more than 26 percent of total production, worth almost $6.5 billion, to foreign destinations.
- Exports added $53.47 to the average price – $147 – producers received for each hog marketed last year.
- Pork exports helped support about 550,000 mostly rural jobs, including 110,000 jobs tied directly to exports.
- Based on export success and unprecedented demand for its product, the U.S. pork industry is currently on pace to expand production over the next two years by eight percent.
Just as the sun rises each morning, Kansas farmers and ranchers begin each day dedicated to providing food and providing the best for their families. Simultaneously, and with each new generation, non-farm folks become further and further removed from the farm.
It’s easy to understand why so many people in our state, and this country, understand less and less about agriculture and where their food comes from. Most have forgotten, or may have never known, that individual farmers and ranchers supply the necessary food for their diets.
Many people believe there will never be a food shortage in our country just as long as the doors remain open on their neighborhood supermarket and quick shops. All the while, farmers and ranchers come under closer scrutiny and sometimes unfounded attacks.
Some of the most intense voices in this anti-agriculture movement are driven by questionable—and even extreme—personal and emotional beliefs. This is particularly true when it comes to the future role of food animals. The intent of some of these social media messages, campaigns and advertisements is ill-considered, unnecessarily divisive and, in some cases, unscientific.
Truth be known, today’s farmer or rancher is a planning specialist who understands marketing and using the incentives of free enterprise. To remain in business, our farmers reach deeper into their pockets to pay for crop and livestock inputs that continue to skyrocket, and machinery and other technology that allows them to remain competitive in today’s global economy.
In a recent visit with a young farmer from Haskell County, Hayes Kelman, I asked what inspires him about farming?
Hayes zeroed in on the experience and the satisfaction of building on his family heritage. He knows at the end of the day, everything that happens, and every good or bad change is his responsibility.
This young farmer cherishes the opportunity to make his own way – with support and input from his family. While numbers on a ledger sheet are important to him, farming is much more than this.
“I hope I never forget the thrill of the first truckload of wheat to go into the elevator,” Kelman says.
The sweet success of producing food for hungry people remains something the Haskell County farmer will never take for granted. Farmers farm because their vocation remains part of the divine magic of life that renews itself every year.
No matter how many times he’s done it, the young farmer still marvels that a seed planted in the earth can grow and produce food.
“Some people spend their whole lives in church and never see as much proof of the grace of God as I see every day,” Hayes says. “I can’t imagine walking through a field that I’ve prayed and sweated over, only to reduce this whole miracle to dollars and cents.”
Safeguarding agriculture as a necessary, noble profession remains in the best interests of farmers, ranchers, agribusiness and all of us. This is critical because the contribution agriculture makes to the health and prosperity of this country cannot be measured.
It’s key for consumers, along with farmers and ranchers to understand and respect one another. This country and the world cannot hope to feed its people sustainably without the support of the many thousands of family farms and ranches across the country.
Without this health in agriculture, there is no way to ensure prosperity in our economy and producers like Hayes Kelman will not be able to produce the food we take so much for granted in our lives each day.