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MINNEAPOLIS, MN - Minnesota's agriculture commissioner says President Donald Trump's trade policies are damaging the state's rural economy.

Mexico has placed a 10 percent tariff on U.S pork products in response to U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, Minnesota Public Radio reported. The pork tariff will double next month.

"And that just really puts us at quite a disadvantage from a standpoint of what may end up happening with demand in Mexico," David Preisler, CEO of the Minnesota Pork Producers Association.

Mexico buys nearly two billion pounds of pork from the U.S. annually, more than any other nation.

Hog prices have been declining in recent months because of the trade dispute. Farmers are expected to lose $15 for every animal they sell this year, despite earlier projections estimating a $10 profit for every animal, Preisler said.

"And really the only two material things that have changed in that time period are the tariff that has occurred from China, and now the tariff that will occur from Mexico," said Preisler.

China increased an existing tariff on U.S. pork from 12 percent to 37 percent several months ago.

"We, as agriculture, end up collateral damage to this whole issue," said Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture David Frederickson. "And that angers me." The policies are affecting beginning farmers in particular, he said.

Hog farmers fear the tariff could cause lasting damage to the pork industry. Minnesota hog producer Terry Wolters recently attended the World Pork Expo in Iowa. He said many farmers were discussing the tariffs and their potential impact on port exports.

"We've really enjoyed a great run for a good number of years because of the benefits of our trade opportunities in foreign markets," said Wolters. "And as producers I would say we definitely want to continue to have market access."
 

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