The Pork Trade Action Coalition (PTAC) has initiated a new advertising campaign, stating, “Don’t Tax Our Pigs!” in opposition to the duties placed by the US Department of Commerce (DOC) on imported Canadian pigs. The ad, running in the Des Moines Register, is signed by seventy-seven independent Iowa farmers and calls on all farmers in the state to, ” ... join us to fight this unfair tax.”
On October 15, the DOC announced preliminary duties ranging from 13.25% to 15.01% on imported Canadian pigs. The case began earlier this year when the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and other groups filed the petition with the International Trade Commission (ITC) alleging that Canadian hog producers were exporting hogs at a price below their cost of production, or “dumping.”
The advertisement states, “Some of the largest packer-owner producers in the US support this ‘dumping case’ and stand to gain from closing the border to swine imports. Make no mistake, this is really a tax on the US farmer.” It goes on to say, “We call on all Iowa farmers to join us to fight this unfair tax. Fight for Iowa farmers. Tell the Commerce Department NOT to tax our Pigs!”
Many US pig farmers buy 10-pound “weanlings” (baby pigs) or 50-pound “feeder pigs” and raise them to market weight—about 260 pounds—in the United States. These farmers sell their hogs in direct competition with the large packer-owners, and rely on Canadian weanlings and feeders to support their operations.
PTAC member Dr. Tom Samp, a veterinarian and owner of Unique Swine Systems, a co-op of over 200 producers in Iowa and five other states said, “I became a member of PTAC and signed on to this ad campaign because I am absolutely against these duties. This tax could put me out of business!”
He continued, “I can’t get the pigs I need in the US, which is why I import them from Canada and raise and sell them here. Many farmers in this area also import Canadian pigs and are stuck in the same harmful situation with this tax. I hope others will join in the fight so we can work together to end the duties.”
In addition to Dr. Samp, seventy-six farmers from cities all over Iowa such as Mingo, Newton, West Union, Le Mars and Grundy Center have signed on to the campaign. Iowa is a major importer of Canadian swine, buying 2.7 million young Canadian pigs in 2003, more than half of the five million young pigs that were shipped into the United States from Canada that year.
Secretary John R. Block, former US Secretary of Agriculture and a Senior Advisor to PTAC spoke of the increased efforts the Coalition is engaging in, saying, “PTAC is prepared to do whatever it takes to end this unfair tax on hundreds of farmers across the country. We can’t stand by and watch small farmers across the US risk losing their business that they have worked so hard to build. If the effort takes advertising, if it takes all Iowa farmers writing their local Member of Congress, if it takes more legal work, then PTAC is prepared to do that. We firmly believe that in the end, the facts will show that imports are not injuring the US industry and the duties will be eliminated.”
The DOC will make its final determinations early next year, and duties may increase or decrease from the preliminary determinations. The International Trade Commission (ITC) is expected to make a final determination on the question of whether imports have injured the US industry by March 2005.