Pig farming under a new US administration


Treena Hein, Pig Progress

Jan 13, 2021


As from January 20, a new administration will be installed in Washington, DC. The new agriculture secretary in the Biden administration is a face known by many: Tom Vilsack. His actions during his previous time in the same job are considered dismal by many in the agricultural community.


The recent fractious US presidential election will surely be analysed by historians for many years to come, but for their part, US farmers just want to move forward with the respect and support they need from the new president and agriculture secretary in order to earn a good living now and in the future.


In countless media reports before the recent federal election, US farmers were expected to again largely vote for Trump as they did in the 2016 election (recall however, that US farmers overwhelmingly vote for the Republican party no matter the candidate). They did indeed vote for Trump in large numbers, despite the fact that Trump started a trade war with China in 2018 which removed a key agricultural export market. That year, the Trump administration levied $ 34 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods and China retaliated with tariffs on US agricultural products. These rose to 33% for soybeans and a shocking 72% for US pork products.


Agricultural concerns in 2021


Indeed, American Farm Bureau executive vice president Dale Moore recently stated that trade continues to be a central concern for US farmers, both with Pacific Rim countries and those across the Atlantic. He said, “We look forward to hopefully making some progress with the European Union,” adding that “the other area that is always a perennial issue… is ensuring that farmers and ranchers have access to a ready, stable, legal workforce… That’s going to be an ongoing challenge that we’re still trying to find answers to.”


NPPC: Focus on trade and keeping ASF out


For its part, when asked about its concerns and priorities, the US National Pork Producers Council also focuses on trade. “We are committed to working with the new administration on priority issues for US hog farmers, including the US rejoining the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership,” says communications officer Rachel Gantz. It’s also a priority, she says, “to strengthen biosecurity at our borders to ensure African Swine Fever and other diseases remain outside the country.”


US farmers are very concerned about higher taxes and new regulations that the Biden administration is expected to introduce. Biden’s ‘Plan for Rural America’ frightens farmers because, among its other ‘green’ goals, its set a goal of net-zero emissions for US agriculture. Farmers wonder what this will mean for them, at a time when they are already under immense pressure.


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