A key federal official says things are going to get “a little more difficult” for farmers as the Trump Administration seeks to alter global trade — and Gregg Doud warns pork producers are “at the tip of the spear.”

 “Depending on how you slice it and dice it, over $20 billion of our $140 billion in ag exports currently has or is likely to have retaliatory tariffs against it,” said Doud, the chief agricultural negotiator in the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office.

He spoke at the World Pork Expo yesterday (Thursday) — two days after Mexico slapped import duties on U.S. pork in response to the Trump Administration’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum from Mexico. It adds new tensions in the 10-month effort to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“NAFTA is certainly important to agriculture,” Doud said. “It’s critical to agriculture and we’ve got to get that worked out.”

Doud said there are “long-festering” issues with China that will take some time to resolve, too. He says China must be stopped from stealing U.S. trade secrets and intellectual property. Doud, who grew up on a farm in Kansas, said the Trump Administration will “play offense” and seek to open new markets for ag commodities in places like Japan.

(Reporting by Ken Anderson of Brownfield Ag News)