The long-term outlook for U.S. pork exports remains "fantastic," says Iowa State University (ISU) economist Dermot Hayes. "We have the land and the ability to produce what the world’s consumers want, especially those in Asia," he said recently at the World Pork Expo in Des Moines.

In addition, pork exports would be propelled higher by wide-ranging free trade agreements that are being considered with countries in the Pacific region and in Europe.

However, in the near term, pork farmers are facing obstacles that have trimmed overseas sales, said Hayes, who has been a consulting trade economist for the National Pork Producers Council since 1995.

And these obstacles, along with a ramp up in U.S. pork production, are likely to weaken pork farmers’ profit potential for at least the...