Trade was a major topic at this year’s World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa, where USDA Undersecretary Greg Ibach and Gregg Doud, chief agriculture negotiator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, spoke this week. But other topics, including a Foot and Mouth Disease vaccine bank, were up for discussion.
“The most important thing we can do each and every day is to maintain our vigilance, maintain our biosecurity, maintain the borders, protection at our borders, and put together an education process that equips farmers, equips tourists, and equips government to be able to continue to keep us disease free,” Ibach (pictured above) told attendees on Wednesday, referring to a potential FMD outbreak.
Ibach, USDA’s undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs, said USDA is working with Congress to identify funding as well as other vaccines that could be included in a potential vaccine depository. Funding for such a vaccine bank is being debated as Congress moves forward in creating a new farm bill.
Doud focused his time on trade issues and the tariffs that are being directed toward U.S. ag exports as disputes heat up between the U.S. and China, the EU, Canada and Mexico. Speaking on Thursday, Doud said there "is or will be retaliation against U.S. agricultural exports because of what we are doing in other areas unrelated to agriculture."
“That retaliation is going to be somewhere in the neighborhood, depending on how you slice and dice it, of over $20 billion of our $140 billion in ag exports” he said. “Let’s be frank, the lead tip of the spear right now is the pork. You guys are probably retaliated against in the pork industry more than any other industry.”
Doud later told the room full of pork producers that the Trump administration has also calculated the costs of intellectual property and cyber theft, and discriminatory licensing regimes.
“That’s cost our country somewhere in the neighborhood $50 billion. So very soon here, the president is going to announce that we’re going to impose those tariffs on a very specific type of Chinese high tech,” Doud said.
Unfortunately, as Doud later emphasized, agriculture will likely take it on the chin as these tariffs are imposed. However, not all Doud had to offer was bad news for the industry.
“I see meat as the real opportunity longer-term for demand growth in the world, and for the U.S. ability to provide that meat,” Doud said. “Regardless of all wrinkles we have going on, we’re able to hold pretty steady on price – that’s amazing."
"When you’re adding that much production year on year and you’re able to move it and make it all work that tells you two things. Number one, the U.S. economy is strong… and number two, the world economy is strong and our ability to export these things is good and getting better."