During the 2017 World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Ia., the pork industry stressed the importance of trade and expanding trade markets. 

Ken Maschhoff, president of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), says the industry is trying to put bi-lateral trade agreements in place with the Asian-Pacific countries the U.S. that was put in jeopardy by nixing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  He says 60% of the world’s population lives in the Asian-Pacific area. 

“Bi-lateral trade agreements with about four countries, starting with Japan, are paramount for us,” said Maschhoff. 

Japan is the number one market for the United States in terms of dollars, and Mexico is the top market for the United States in terms of volume. Yet, pork leaders want to expand markets even more.

“We have Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam [that] are also large targets in that area,” said Maschhoff. “We do have an opportunity to get [U.S. pork into Vietnam] at a more affordable cost than a lot of other countries can.”

President Trump notified Congress about renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) earlier this year. Maschhoff says the pork industry “want things left alone.” 

“The win we already had is that we didn’t scrap the thing and throw it away and start over,” said Maschhoff. “Had we done that, we know the Mexicans were ready to look south and look to other areas for pork supply. We probably would have lost that market had we have if we scrapped NAFTA entirely."