The trade war heating up. China is suspending U.S. agricultural imports leaving some local farmers in shock.
This comes after President Trump’s decision just last week to increase tariffs on Chinese products. It will impact $300 billion worth of Chinese goods and takes effect September 1.
One of the crops impacted by this latest directive is almonds. 80% of the world’s almonds come from right here in California.
“Right now these almonds here, we’re about two to three weeks away from shaking them off the tree,” said Robert Rocha, Sales Manager of PR Farms.
The farm in Clovis is gearing up for harvest on its 3,000 acres.
“You can see a lot of them are opened up now and you can see them start to darken up where they’re starting to dry out,” Rocha explained.
Rocha says China is a huge market for the nut. In California, more than $500 million dollars was exported in 2017 alone.
“We’ve been exporting there for a lot of years, have a lot of customers there,” Rocha added.
Now, they’re faced with big news making headlines, coming from overseas.
“The fact that this comes this time of year is not good news whatsoever,” said Ryan Jacobsen, CEO of Fresno County Farm Bureau.
“It’s not what you want to have to deal with in regards to getting ready for a new season,” Rocha said.
But it’s been tough for a while. The tariff right now is at 50% for almonds. Last year, shipments were down by half from PR Farms to China.
“China is one of the top trading partners for California,” Jacobsen said. “It’s in the top five and just about everything you can imagine, we ship here from the San Joaquin Valley.”
Nut crops, wine, and citrus are just some of the products that end up in that country.
“We just hope that China and the U.S. come to the bargaining table and try to resolve this issue as quickly as possible,” Jacobsen said.
Long term, it’s possible the domestic market could benefit.
“For consumers here, what I would say is your pricing will be more affordable,” Rocha said.
But with a crop even bigger than last year predicted and shipments set for September, farmers can only wait to see what’s next in this war on trade.
“There’s been years, if not decades, put into establishing these markets and to see them go away overnight is very troubling,” Jacobsen concluded.