The U.S. Department of Agriculture has agreed that Mexico is free from a disease known as classical swine fever, which means all states in Mexico can now export pork products to the United States.
Until that decision was reached, only nine Mexican states were able to export pork to the U.S., Mike Doherty, senior economist and policy analyst at the Illinois Farm Bureau, said.
“The U.S. agency Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in charge of these kinds of things went down to Mexico and actually inspected down there," Doherty said. "They came back and decided that it is true -- Mexico is free of this disease."
Doherty said the U.S. already exports a large amount of pork to Mexico.
“The United States is a large exporter of pork and for Illinois farmers, pork going to Mexico represents bushels of corn going to Mexico,” Doherty said.
Doherty said as part of free-trade agreements with Mexico, it was important to keep the country happy.
“We want to keep them happy; and to keep them happy, we do also have to buy their product and we have to recognize when there is no reason to not buy their product,” Doherty said.
Additionally, Doherty said the worldwide demand for protein should not hurt the price of pork for producers in the U.S. and Illinois.
“Given that worldwide demand for protein, and the slight increase from some additional states in Mexico hoping to increase their exports to the United States, I do not see it having a major price impact,” Doherty said.
In terms of food safety, Doherty said Americans would be surprised how much more sophisticated countries like Mexico now are in terms of their food processing. Doherty said he toured Mexico and was very impressed by the standards there.