PORK PRODUCERS in the United States are insisting that any new trade agreement with the United Kingdom or the European Union must eliminate any tariffs and trade barriers currently limiting US pork's access top those markets.

Hot on the heels of the conclusion of the Trump administration's forceful trade negotiations with Canada and Mexico and South Korea, it is expected to begin equally uncompromising talks with the European Union, Japan and the United Kingdom.

National Pork Producers' Council communications director Jim Monroe said that, in terms of negotiations with the EU and the UK, US pork producers will only support a deal that eliminates all limitations on pork exports.

Mr Monroe said: "Very positive news that we're going to start those discussions but we believe, US pork producers believe, that any trade agreement with the UK and with the European Union needs to be based on international or US production practices. Right now there's some significant differences in terms of acceptable production practices between the European, the UK and the US.

"If European standards are the focus of those discussions we won't see too much value in those trade agreement so that's pretty much a non-starter for us," he stressed.

In contrast to the EU, there is no federal US legislation with regard to pig welfare, so the close confinement of stall-and-tether systems is still the norm for American pigs. Another major barrier to trade is the widespread use of growth hormone ractopamine in the US pig industry as a feed additive – a practice banned in the EU.

"We want to see free trade between the EU and the UK and we're very interested in expanding what we ship to those regions of the world and believe that, if we can compete on a level playing field, we're going to do extremely well, but the production practices that it is based on have to be aligned with our interests," said Mr Monroe.