Pig farmers cry foul over US import plan
Thai pig farmers are opposing any plan to allow pork imports from the US.
Surachai Sutthitham, president of the Thai Swine Raisers Association, said the group has submitted a letter of intention to related agencies such as the Livestock Development Department, the Trade Negotiations Department and Foreign Trade Department to oppose the imports.
They said Thailand is under growing pressure from US President Donald Trump’s policy to push for opening pork imports from the US, especially pig parts US consumers generally avoid eating, such as heads, giblets, legs and offal.
“If the imports are allowed as requested, Thai pig farmers will definitely be hit hard and the entire pig farming system will be adversely affected,” Mr Surachai said. US pig farmers enjoy state subsidies that ensure relatively low production costs, he said.
There are about 300,000 Thai pig farmers nationwide, raising some 15 million pigs. Thailand’s pork market value is estimated at 100 million baht a year.
An industry source said US pork producers have called on their government to negotiate with Thailand to open up to imports of US pork, calling the issue one of the factors that led to a trade imbalance.
Thailand was named this year by Mr Trump as one of 16 countries to be probed for its trade imbalance with the US. The Thai Commerce Ministry recently submitted a report to the US Office of the Federal Register saying the trade surplus was caused by normal trade and economic practices. The report said the trade deficit is not substantial, making up only 1.5% of the US’s total trade deficit.
US shipments to Thailand have not expanded much, as the US does not have a bilateral free-trade agreement with Thailand, while foreign direct investment from the US has decelerated, the report said. Thai midstream products that add value to hightech products and agricultural raw materials imported by the US play a vital role in US economic development.
The source said Thailand has yet to allow pork imports from the US as Thailand has banned the use of beta agonists, drugs that changes animals’ metabolisms so they develop more muscle instead of fat. The US allows such drugs in pig farming.