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Ohio Hog Farmers: Talks Of Pork Tariffs Already Impacting Market

Teodor Lazarev

Ohio hog farmers are reacting to the news that China is planning to attach a tariff on pork exports – a move in response to the U.S. proposed tariff on Chinese steel. Ohio farmers say they’ve seen an immediate effect from the announcement.

“The message is, ‘Get it worked out,’” said Brian Watkins, a lifelong hog farmer from Kenton.

Watkins wants President Trump, top federal officials and leaders from China to resolve the impending trade dilemma. According to the National Pork Board, Ohio produced more than $600 million worth of pork products in 2015.

Watkins says China’s proposed 25 percent tariff on pork creates a volatile marketplace with ripples that can instantaneously hit farmers.

“Something happens somewhere in the world that very quickly, I mean immediately, essentially within hours, gets filtered into the price being paid for what we receive,” Watkins said.

In 2017, China received $1.1 billion worth of U.S. pork exports – America’s third-largest consumer. The Ohio Pork Council says, because of the nature of the industry, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how much business Ohio farmers get from China.

Pork isn’t the only industry potentially getting hurt by the U.S.-China trade war. A 25 percent tariff proposed against soybeans would prove dangerous to Ohio farmers, which produce $2.5 billion in soybeans every year – their top cash crop, most of which is bought by China. News of those tariffs also rattled the soybean market, potentially costing farmers thousands of dollars.

China’s tariffs came in response to Trump’s announcement of steel and aluminum tariffs, which some Ohio politicians and industries support.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.