If you are a part of the U.S. poultry industry, there is no doubt you are aware of the important role trade with Mexico plays.
After all, Mexico imports more U.S. chicken than any other country.
But with President Donald Trump putting so much emphasis on his plans to build a wall at the Mexican border, as well as a few remarks made that Mexican officials could deem offensive, concerns about trade with Mexico would seem well-founded.
One poultry executive’s thoughts
Speaking recently during the BMO Capital Markets 12th Annual Farm to Market Conference, Sanderson Farms President and Chief Operating Officer Lampkin Butts touched on trade with Mexico.
He said that volumes of U.S. chicken shipped to Mexico are down somewhat, citing currency values and increased imports of Brazilian chicken to Mexico as factors. However, Butts said the U.S. could see an increased demand for chicken in Mexico.
Can that potential demand be met by U.S. poultry companies, or will Mexico look elsewhere? Butts expressed some confidence that the role Mexico plays in the poultry industry is not lost on Trump.
“Mexico is so important to us and the industry, that if the administration does anything to damage that, that’s going to be difficult,” Butts said. “Right now, based on the meetings we’ve had in Washington and what we’ve read in the press, we believe that President Trump realizes the significance of Mexico, not just in the poultry industry, but to agriculture across all products.”
Will the Georgia connection help?
Currently, the broiler chicken industry has better representation in Washington than during previous administrations.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, a former veterinarian and governor of Georgia, the country’s largest broiler producing state, is quite familiar with the industry and its dynamics.
We can also take into account that agriculture’s largest lobbying organization, American Farm Bureau Federation, now has another Georgian, Zippy Duvall, as its president. The Duvall family is a contract grower for a major U.S. chicken company, Pilgrim’s.
These two could certainly educate Trump of Mexico’s importance, if they have not already done so.
Are ‘calmer heads’ prevailing?
Earlier this year during the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE), Poultry Perpective Economist Paul Aho also talked about Mexican relations, saying Mexico is a very good customer, and “you want to treat customers like that very well.”
Aho added that he hoped “calmer heads will prevail.”
Do you think Aho’s wish is coming true? I certainly hope that it is.