okPORK Executive Director Roy Lee Lindsey Explains the Biggest Threats to the US Pork IndustryThu, 27 Jul 2017 16:51:03 CDT
Executive Director of the Oklahoma Pork Council Roy Lee Lindsey stopped by the RON studios this week to visit with Farm Director Ron Hays about several subjects, including the importance of trade to the US pork industry in an age of increased market opportunity and global consumerism. You can hear that conversation between Hays and Lindsey by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of this page.
Given today’s political climate and financial uncertainty in the world, against the backdrop of impressive consumer demand in the protein market, particularly in pork, Lindsey confesses the biggest fear for the pork industry right now, is an interruption in trade. Obviously, the closest threat to that happening, is the renegotiation of the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, which will begin in just a couple weeks.
“We’ve been very pleased with the impacts of NAFTA on our ability to sell pork into Mexico and into Canada,” Lindsey said, adding that as two of our largest markets both in volume and value, an interruption in trade to these countries because of political dispute would be extremely costly to the pork and ag industry overall. “Today, the way production is structured in the US - we’re becoming more and more dependent on exports.”
Lindsey says the industry, by design, is growing with several new processing facilities coming online in the very near future. He says this growth is being created with the intention of capturing more international trade. To not enter the race for global market share, says Lindsey, is to ignore what is going on around you. Which presents the second type of threat - falling behind.
Lindsey uses the Trans-Pacific Partnership as an example. Before President Trump pulled TPP off the table, that agreement offered tremendous opportunity for the US agricultural industry. Instead, though, the new administration decided it would rather prefer to forge a bilateral agreement with Japan. Yet, six months since his inauguration, Trump has made little movement towards reaching such an agreement.
“Japan, for a relatively small nation, is a tremendous market for us in terms of value,” he commented. “They like high value pork cuts and they buy lots of them. And, we’re still waiting to get started on that bilateral trade agreement.”
Essentially, he says US producers are missing out on opportunities that other pork exporters, like the EU, have taken advantage of and now hold a competitive edge over the US.
The last and perhaps worst scenario that threatens to interrupt the exportation of pork, is the potential outbreak of disease in our nation’s hog population. Lindsey says the threat of a Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak would not only harm the pork industry, but all of agriculture, either directly or through trickle down effects. An outbreak could immediately shut down our export markets and result in losses of billions of dollars and thousands of jobs.
“We’re not prepared as a country,” he said, “to stop an outbreak before it spreads. What we are asking for, is for the USDA to upgrade its FMD vaccine bank. We don’t have enough vaccine in the country today. We don’t have access to vaccine on a ready basis. There is a tremendous exposure to that kind of disease.”
Lindsey will join Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays for his weekly In the Field segment on KWTV News9 in the Oklahoma City area on Saturday morning at 6:40 a.m.
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