Dishing On Dumping

by 5m Editor
27 October 2004, at 12:00am

US - While not unanimous, producer reaction to the Department of Commerce ruling on provisional antidumping duties of 14 percent on live hogs from Canada has been very positive, reports Feedstuffs.

Economists Steve Meyer and Dermot Hayes believe the vast majority of the impact will be lower hog prices in Canada and higher hog prices in the U.S. While some producers who were purchasing subsidized weaned pigs from Canada may see higher prices, Meyer and Hayes said the overall impact on the U.S. will be positive as a rising tide raises all boats.

The Canadian pork industry hired a big gun in Washington, D.C., to argue otherwise.

Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture John Block is serving as senior adviser to the Pork Trade Action Coalition (PTAC), a group formed to fight duties on Canadian hogs coming to the U.S. PTAC lists eight coalition members on its web site: three from Canada, three from Iowa and one each from Montana and Oregon.

Block said he has always been a proponent of free trade, and he believed the duties were "not good in the long term." Block said the dumping claims were a "bogus charge," and he was "perplexed" as to why the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) was pushing the case.

Block claims the dumping rates are unfair and will hurt American farmers who buy Canadian isowean and feeder pigs.

Nick Giordano, vice president of trade policy for NPPC, said that's just not the case. "U.S. producers can compete with Canadian producers. They can't compete with the Canadian government," he noted.

According to Feedstuffs, lawyers will tell you that when the law is in your favor, pound on the law; when the facts are in your favor, pound on the facts; when neither is in your favor, pound on the table. Without economic analysis or other data to support its case, PTAC seems to be pounding the table in hopes that the noise will make an impact.

Larry Leopold of southwest Minnesota, who operates a 120-sow farrow-to-finish farm near Okabena, said he's pleased the duties have been put in place. He used the word "arrogance" to describe expansion in the Canadian sow herd in recent years while sow numbers in the U.S. declined.

"I have no doubt that increased production in Canada has put pressure on prices," said Leopold. "To what extent? I'll leave that to the geniuses of the industry to decipher."

Leopold lamented the loss of many farrow-to-finish operators in Minnesota.

"When you lose hog farmers who have been in the business for many years, you lose expertise and, eventually, innovation," said Leopold. Brent Sandidge who runs a 2,000-sow farrow-to-finish operation in central Missouri, said he hasn't spent a lot of time worrying about the issue.

"My counterparts in Minnesota and Iowa are probably more concerned about this than I am," said Sandidge.

However, if the move curtails expansion of the sow herd, he sees it as a positive development.

"Hopefully, this will cause Canadian producers to think twice before expanding their sow numbers," said Sandidge. "We don't need any new sows in North America."

Source: National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) - 27th October 2004

5m Editor