Fears over a possible trade war between the United States and China are hitting home for Minnesota pork producers.
President Trump this week ordered tariffs on steel and aluminum from the country. In response, China threatened its own set of tariffs on U.S. goods.
Pork is one of Minnesota’s top agricultural exports. The state’s department of agriculture estimated that in 2016, $717 million dollars of pork was exported from the state to countries worldwide.
China is one of the largest markets pork products are sent to and the market brings a lot of money into rural Minnesota communities, according to Glenn Stolt, president of Christensen Farms.
“When you do have disruption in trade, unrelated to the product itself or food for that matter, it’s concerning because it tends to be out of our control,” Stolt said. “That means we have to find other markets internationally for that product or we will see suppressed pricing here.”
Stolt said the hardest hits from a Chinese tariff on pork could land on rural communities.
“I believe pork production employs about 22,000 employees,” Stolt said. “If you think about not only those employees, but all the allied industries and all the other inputs that come into pork production, it will have a profound impact and a negative consequence on rural communities.”
Stolt said the impact to the average consumer is difficult to predict at this point, since the tariffs haven’t actually gone into effect. But he said tariffs can challenge a market’s viability, which ends up raising prices for goods because of short supply.