Meat industry says US-China agreement vital to agribusiness

Grace Connatser
Wisconsin State Farmer

The North American Meat Institute has created a coalition of 192 businesses in the meat industry to ask President Trump to secure the sustainability of the US-China Phase One Trade Agreement.

NAMI sent a letter to the president June 16, in which the organization emphasized the importance of Chinese trade with Wisconsin's rural communities, especially in meat and poultry. The trade agreement was made in January this year, shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic was declared. Since then, the relationship between the US and China has been volatile.

The letter stated that rural farm income is already on a downward trajectory, and reinforcing the agreement with China will help bring security and relief to farmers whose exports depend on Chinese buyers. The agriculture sector employs millions of Americans and accounts for one-fifth of the nation's economy, the letter read.

"Our industry is the economic backbone of rural America, stimulating employment throughout the United States," NAMI wrote.

NAMI further wrote that Chinese trade bolsters American employment and stimulates the export economy - in 2019, ag exports headed for China totaled nearly $14 billion, and was the third-biggest market for US ag exports behind Canada and Mexico. 

China's fast-growing middle class will have more disposable income to spend in the near future, NAMI wrote, and those dollars will be spent on improving diets as China continues to struggle with food safety and domestic production.

"The U.S.-China Phase One Trade Agreement will act as foundation for prosperity of the U.S. agriculture sector. At this especially challenging time, rural America needs one of its greatest potential export markets for food and agricultural products.

"The Phase One Trade Agreement with China is vital to economic stability and growth for America’s farmers, food manufacturers, food industry workers, agribusinesses—as well as the full spectrum of other non-agricultural sectors of the U.S. economy whose jobs and economic well-being are dependent upon agriculture."