October 21, 2019
Japanese pork producers in Okinawa fear stiffer competition from cheap US meat
A recent US-Japan trade deal to cut tariffs on US beef and pork is causing worry for the livestock industry in Japan's Okinawa Prefecture due to the potential of stronger competition from cheaper US imports, The Japan Times reported on October 20.
Local pork producers fear that consumers may prefer US beef to Okinawan pork, thus affecting their sales. The trade deal is otherwise welcomed by local restaurants which said they would be able to offer cheap, less fatty but more richly flavored US beef.
The US-Japan trade deal will reduce Japan's tariffs to a level similar to that of the revised Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), making US beef and pork new competitors in the Okinawan market. The prefecture's livestock farmers are most impacted by the deal as many are too small to generate benefits of scale.
"(Because of TPP), foreign pork has already seen a huge reduction in tariffs and cheap foreign meat is circulating in the market in large quantities," said one meat dealer.
Furthermore, in face of a growing price competition and continuing high feed prices, farmers are seeking assistance in the form of government subsidies.
Seizo Inamine, the secretary-general and head of Okinawa's pig-farming promotion association, said: "It's true we need to make efforts ourselves to introduce high-quality sires from outside the prefecture and increase the annual herd shipment, and so on. But there are limits to what farmers alone can do to counter imported meats."
Meanwhile, Okinawa's agriculture department will urge the government to allay farmers' concerns, an official said.
"We will monitor movements and deal with the situation in an appropriate manner," the official added.
- The Japans Times