Pork producers fear being slaughtered by Mexico tariffs

Anxiety among U.S. pork producers is running rampant over the latest salvo in the global trade skirmish with neighboring Mexico.

The south of the border country has already slapped a retaliatory 10% tariff on U.S. pork products, and it will increase to 20% by July 5.

“You get this kind of announcement, it’s just unsettling,” Maschhoff Family Foods Chairman Ken Maschhoff said in an exclusive interview with FOX Business’ Liz Claman.

Thousands of U.S. and global pork producers, industry professionals and industry experts are gathered at the 2018 World Pork Expo at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa.

Maschhoff said the pork industry is very much dependent on trade, and the latest tariffs imposed by Mexico are striking fear into the country’s pork producers.

“We don’t know exactly what it’s all going to mean yet. We don’t know if we’re going to be able to rectify the situation,” he said.

The National Pork Producers Council issued a statement saying Mexico’s decision to use tariffs as a retaliatory measure is devastating to pork-producing families across the United States.

“While producers are trying to be good soldiers, we’re taking on water fast. The president has said that he would not abandon farmers. We take him at his word,” NPPC president Jim Heimerl said.

The pork industry supports an estimated 550,000 jobs ranging from pork producers and meat processors to transport and Main Street businesses, according to the NPPC. Exports supported around 110,000 jobs in the U.S. pork and allied industries.

Mexico is the largest trading partner for the U.S. with imports of almost 650,000 metric tons of pork legs and shoulder last year.

Maschhoff said Mexico’s tariffs may force some U.S. farmers to close their businesses.

“[Pork] producers are looking at some potential devastation,” Maschhoff said.