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May 31, 2019 11:15 AM, EDT

Pork Producers, Corn Growers Urge Trump to Reverse on Mexico Tariffs

Pork Dania Maxwell/Bloomberg News

U.S. farm groups are complaining about President Donald Trump’s decision to announce new tariffs on a top buyer of their pork, corn and wheat.

The president said May 30 that 5% duties could be placed on all imports from Mexico on June 10, rising in increments to 25% in October unless Mexico halts the flow of immigrants heading to the U.S. border.

“We appeal to President Trump to reconsider plans to open a new trade dispute with Mexico,” David Herring, president of the National Pork Producers Council and a hog farmer from Lillington, N.C., said May 31 in an e-mail statement. “American pork producers cannot afford retaliatory tariffs from its largest export market, tariffs which Mexico will surely implement.”

Mexico is the largest buyer by volume. Trade disputes with Mexico and China already have cost U.S. pork producers $2.5 billion over the past year, Herring said Lean hog futures on May 31 closed down 2.2% to 85.925 c/lb, for the fifth monthly drop in the last six months.

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Corn, Grains

“Amid a perfect storm of challenges in farm country, we cannot afford the uncertainty this action would bring,” National Corn Growers Association President Lynn Chrisp said in an e-mail statement. He said the president should “reconsider using tariffs to address nontrade issues.”

The Mexican market is “very important to our products,” said Tom Sleight, CEO of the U.S. Grains Council. Nervous farmers, who have been supportive of the president, are “watching closely,” Sleight said.

Mexico is the largest export market for U.S. corn. Corn futures in Chicago fell 2.1%, while wheat slipped 2.2% on May 31 amid concerns that Mexico will retaliate against the latest tariff threat.

Dire Dairy

“Dairy farmers and the dairy industry were looking forward to a resumption of robust trade with Mexico, our No. 1 market, which could be negatively impacted if tariffs are assessed,” Tom Vilsack, CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council and former secretary of agriculture, said in an e-mail.