ST. ONGE, S.D. (KOTA TV) - The Australia bushfires have killed dozens of people, and countless animals, affecting not only the country but the world.
Australia's sheep market is taking a dive after the bushfires kills nearly a billion animals, including livestock. (KOTA)
Natural disasters cause plenty of problems in the trade industry. But between the fires and a new trade deal with China, it could mean better business for American ranchers.
Australia's blazes are killing livestock and are causing a major hit to the agriculture industry.
Justin Tupper, a South Dakota rancher reached out to a friend in Australia who said one rancher lost 5,000 sheep to the fires.
"It doesn't matter if they are from Australia or where they're from. We know what drought and devastating fires can feel like to us here and we feel the same pain for them over there," Tupper said.
According to the Meat and Livestock Australia statistics, in early 2019, Australian beef exports to China were up 67 % year-on-year compared to 11% across all markets. Mutton exports increased by 83%.
But now with a major hit, where will China get it's meat?
It could mean an uptick for American ranchers.
"With a shortage of meat coming from that way it would be safe to assume that could be a positive, especially the sheep industry and probably some on the cattle side," Tupper said.
On Wednesday, President Trump signed a trade agreement with China with many South Dakota law makers standing by the decision.
Senator Mike Rounds said,"it's worth somewhere between 40 and 50 billion dollars of additional trade activity just per year, this coming year. It should add a little bit of a push for pork and for cattle as well."
Governor Kristi Noem said the state will have more access to the China's trade markets and could sell more commodities.
"You know that's really what we do best is that we feed the world. And so to level this playing field and allow us to do that successfully is a big win for our state," Noem said.
Tupper sees the agreement as a win, but said he is still skeptical.
"We'll see how they play out. I think we have to approach it with some skepticism but they're in need and hopefully they will come in to play and that could be a big factor as we go forward," Tupper said.
Tupper said with China desperate for protein now after losing millions of hogs to a swine fever, he sees the country asking Americans for more meat.