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South African farmers play chicken with Trump tariffs

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South African battery chickens in a poultry farm. South African battery chickens in a poultry farm. Google Images

JOHANNESBURG - Herman Pretorius is just the kind of white South African farmer U.S. President Donald Trump expressed concern for when he barged into the country’s delicate land reform debate by ordering an investigation into the “large-scale killing of farmers”.

But for the greying, bespectacled 58-year-old, wading knee-deep through some 35,000 chickens at his isolated homestead in South Africa’s North West province, it’s the United States and its cheap poultry exports that are a threat.

“We cannot compare our chickens with theirs. The price difference will kill us,” said Pretorius, speaking with a gravelly voice in his native Afrikaans.

For years, the two countries have fought over poultry: Washington has kept South African poultry out on health and sanitation grounds while Pretoria accuses U.S. farmers of dumping chicken at below-cost prices and has imposed tariffs.


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