Meat for U.S. Down, Exported to China Up

Difficult outcome being made worse, Connecticut representative says.

Last week, President Trump ordered some meat processing plans to stay open to protect the nation’s food supply. Yet the plants have increasingly been exporting to China while U.S. consumers face shortages, a new analysis of government data shows.

“We know that over time exports are critically important. I think we need to focus on meeting domestic demand at this point,” said Mike Naig, the agriculture secretary in the top U.S. pork-producing state of Iowa who supported the president’s order.

Processors including Smithfield Foods, owned by China’s WH Group Ltd., Brazilian-owned JBS USA and Tyson Foods Inc. temporarily closed about 20 U.S. meat plants as the virus infected thousands of employees, prompting meatpackers and grocers to warn of shortages. Some plants have resumed limited operations.

The disruptions mean consumers could see 30 percent less meat in supermarkets by the end of this month, at prices 20 percent higher than last year. But while pork supplies tightened in the U.S, shipments of American pork to China more than quadrupled since mid-March, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

“That tragic outcome is all the worse when the food being processed is not going to our nation’s families,” said U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro  from Connecticut. “That is what the Defense Production Act is all about: protecting America’s national interests, not China’s.”

Pork processor Fresh Mark resumed making bacon and ham for global customers at a Salem, Ohio, plant it shut in April over coronavirus cases.

“If we start having a shortage in America, I think it should stay here,” said Bruce Fatherly, a maintenance worker at the plant and member of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

American farmers, who struggled financially during the trade war with Beijing, say they still need importing countries, including China, to buy their pork. Prior the pandemic, they grappled with an oversupply of hogs.

“There’s enough meat for all channels if we could get these plants back up and rolling,” said Brian Duncan, a hog farmer and vice president of the Illinois Farm Bureau.

As the Lord Leads, Pray with Us…

  • For President Trump, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, officials at the FDA and others who review the supplies of meat products being delivered to American grocers.
  • For President Trump, Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and others to review the mandates of the U.S.-China trade agreement as it relates to meat exports.
  • For American farmers dealing with oversupplies in some areas and shortages in others.

Sources: Reuters, Newsmax


Back to top