Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The U.S. pork industry — whose commodity was among the hardest hit by China's retaliatory tariffs — breathed a sigh of cautious relief following news of a deal that winds down tensions between the U.S. and China.

Why it matters: The deal in theory is a reprieve for farmers, a key part of President Trump's base who have borne the brunt of the trade war. China's purchases of goods like soybeans and pork have waned in the nearly two-year battle — pushing rural America into a financial tailspin in an otherwise solid economy.

Driving the news: U.S. officials said China would up annual purchases of U.S. farm goods to at least $40 billion over a period of two years.

  • But there are no details yet on which goods it'll buy or how China plans to absorb that level of imports. The most China ever purchased from U.S. producers was $29 billion in 2013, per Bloomberg.
  • Hog futures — along with other commodities — rose 1% on news of the deal.

Industry experts say the ceasefire could create new prospects for farmers — but won't undo the missed opportunity to cash in on China's pork shortage, partly due to African swine fever.

  • Pork exports to China haven't "accelerated at the rate that it could have if we didn't have these [trade] obstacles," Joe Schuele, head of communications at the U.S. Meat Export Federation, an industry trade group, tells Axios.
Expand chart
Data: China's monthly consumer price index via FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

The backdrop: The trade war coincided with a breakout of African swine fever, a deadly pig disease that killed hundreds of millions of hogs in eastern Asian countries, as Axios' Jacob Knutson reported earlier this year.

  • Pork prices in China surged triple digits from the prior year in November. The jump in prices pushed China's overall inflation index to rise at the quickest pace in about eight years, per the latest data from the Chinese government.
  • The epidemic had China — the world's top pork consumer — looking offshore to fill the supply gap, a potential goldmine for U.S. farmers.
  • U.S. ramped up herds in anticipation of more demand, with processors slaughtering about 1 million more pigs per week than a year ago, per Reuters.

Yes, but: The U.S. pork industry faced three rounds of retaliatory tariffs. In 17 months, tariffs on pork exports to China increased sixfold (from 12% to 72%).

  • That made it less palatable for Chinese buyers to turn to the U.S. for help, but not totally out of the question.
  • Those that did import from the U.S. sometimes pushed the price hikes back onto U.S. packers and producers — making it less profitable to export to China, Schuele says.

As a result, European suppliers have capitalized much more on China's pork shortage. So has Brazil.

What's next: "We're encouraged that a deal has been reached and we're anxious to get the details," Schuele says — a sentiment echoed by the industry's most prominent trade groups.

  • There may be some opportunity to take advantage of China's upcoming all-important Lunar New Year celebration, which tends to be the country's biggest period of pork consumption.

Go deeper: Chicken consumption is closing in on red meat

Go deeper

Scoop: Biden briefing calls for 20,000 child migrant beds

President Biden, during a virtual meeting with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images

A briefing scheduled for President Biden this afternoon outlines the need for 20,000 beds to shelter an expected crush of child migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The rapid influx of unaccompanied children is building into the administration's first new crisis. A presentation created by the Domestic Policy Council spells out the dimensions with nearly 40 slides full of charts and details.

FBI director: Jan. 6 Capitol attack was domestic terrorism

The FBI views the Jan. 6 Capitol siege as an act of domestic terrorism, director Christopher Wray testified in his opening statement Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Why it matters: The FBI's designation of the attack as domestic terrorism puts the perpetrators "on the same level with ISIS and homegrown violent extremists," Wray said.

Sen. Martin Heinrich to introduce plan for Puerto Rico statehood

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) at a hearing on Feb. 23, 2021 in Washington, D.C. PHOTO: Jim Watson-Pool/Getty Images

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.) announced Tuesday they would introduce legislation to start the motions for Puerto Rico statehood.

Why it matters: More than 52% of Puerto Ricans voted last November in favor of statehood, three years after Hurricane Maria struck the island and caused one of the worst natural disasters in recorded history. It exposed the island's vulnerable position as a U.S. territory and its lack of resources to battle poverty.