New Zealand trade officials are watching the escalating trade war between the US and China with mounting concern and anxiety.
According to a report by the Food & Environment Reporting Network (FERN), as many as 2 million pigs may be backed up on US farms due to slowed production and closures of meatpacking plants.
The statistics are based on claims from three US economists during a teleconference sponsored by the National Pork Board.
David Miller of Decision Innovation Solutions, associate professor Lee Schulz of Iowa State University, and associate professor Scott Brown of the University of Missouri all agreed during the teleconference last Thursday that a large number of pigs will be backed up.
Schulz says the backlog could exceed 2.2 million heads, whereas Miller estimated a backlog of 1.2 million and around 2.1 heads having disappeared since March 1, either due to direct sales, custom butchering, or euthanasia by farmers.
Brown says his estimates would be closer to Miller, who also claimed that pork prices in Autumn could be 20% to 25% lower than the year prior due to the potential backlog.
FERN says that USA pig farmers are using the numbers as evidence they need government further government support. Without such support, they say pigs may need to be culled on farms as there will be no room for them in pork plants.