Almond growers now can apply for federal relief from retaliatory tariffs

Earlier this year, China put a 50-percent tariff on almonds

FRESNO, California - After getting slapped with tariffs earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture added almonds to a relief program last week. It lets growers apply for direct relief from the agency. Local growers, while appreciative, say more needs to be done to mitigate financial damages.

A record crop forecast -- this past summer, growers projected a nearly 8-percent increase with almonds from 2017. The expectation is 2.45 billion pounds.

However, after China imposed a 50-percent tariff on the nut, profits have fluctuated for growers. Something P-R Farms in Fresno County can definitely attest to.

"The price has come down a little bit because of the games that the European Union and China -- and other buyers of our almonds -- are playing," said P-R Farms owner Pat Ricchiuti.

Last week, the USDA announced almonds would be added to the Market Facilitation Program. The program was created to help farmers impacted by retaliatory tariffs. For almonds specifically, the program would give growers 3-cents per pound.

Ricchiuti said he's glad the Trump administration is trying to help, but he adds this isn't enough. Despite that, he said there are other kinds of relief coming, thanks to the trend of rising almond shipments.

"We're going to have relief on the fact that the crops are going to be less than what was projected," he said.

California exports a majority of the world's almonds. As such, despite all the uncertainty and worry, Fresno County Farm Bureau executive director Ryan Jacobsen said the market has stayed fairly consistent.

Still, he said things will only be optimal if we get back to where we were before the tariffs.

"We want to see these tariffs go away and hopefully get back to where trade relations were, or hopefully better than where they were before," Jacobsen said.

The tariff relief program also includes sweet cherries and dairy. You can click here for more information and the application.

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