Local farmers talk about trade dispute with China


For a couple of weeks now, Kansas Hog producer Doug Claassen says he has been wondering if tariffs could become a reality.

Now, China has placed a tariff on pork from the U.S. along with dozens of other U.S. products.

And prices could be taking a hit.

Doug Claassen runs a family hog, cattle and farming operation outside Whitewater in Butler County.

“For as long as this place has been here, there have been hogs here,” says Claassen.

Claassen says he is as concerned about prices now as he has ever been. And that includes going back to when he was young, and his dad ran the operation.

“Well they’ve (prices) been coming down and the rumor about the tariffs has also driven the price down here in the last couple of weeks,” says Claassen. 

KSN asked Claassen, who also has cattle, if he would reduce the number of hogs on his farm given the profitability moving down with lower prices.

“In the short terms, we probably won’t make too many changes, but it’s definitely something we will look at that’s for sure,” says Claassen. “Because it’s hard to predict what will happen down the road.”

Just what does happen down the road may be out of Claassen’s hands, even though he says they belong to groups like the Kansas Pork Association that work to keep prices competitive.

Claassen says he works hard to control the things that he can including keeping his farm as efficient as possible.

Claassen says they change the feed mix up to eight times during the life cycle of the pigs at his farm to maximize growth. He says they are not using growth hormones to ensure the public can feel good about his product.

But the bottom line for Claassen and other Kansas producers is, literally, price.

“We raise our own feed, that keeps prices down. We raise soybeans and take them to Wichita to crush the oil, then we trade that back for soy meal to use here as feed. We try to keep transportation costs efficient,” says Claassen. “The talk about NAFTA, and the talk about trade with China, TPP, those were all good things for agriculture. And it worries me that the future is unknown.” 

*Note, the video of hogs used in this story is from KSN Files of an older and different hog operation and does not show Doug Claassen’s pigs. Claassen said, while he was happy to talk to KSN, for bio-security reasons and proprietary operational uses he preferred not to allow video inside the hog operations on his farm for this story.

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