Pacific Northwest cherry growers bear brunt of tariffs

Cherry growers in the Pacific Northwest were hit hard this harvest after a second wave of Chinese tariffs placed on their products, forcing farmers to redistribute their crops in the middle of harvest, or face heavy losses.

The crop is important for the state’s economy. Washington exported $304 million in cherries in 2016. The success of the crop depends on a fast turnaround from picking to shipment, which became a significant problem during this year’s harvest.

The Northwest Horticultural Council (NHC) estimates the strain caused by the trade war with China will result in the region’s cherry growers losing between $60 and 86 million in revenue.

In April, president Trump placed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The escalating trade war resulted in two waves of Chinese retaliatory tariffs being placed on U.S. goods on April 6 and July 6, respectively.

Although the Trump Administration announced its $12 billion farm aid plan in July which some said would assist farmers directly affected by trade negotiations, cherries were not included. Several Washington growers and agricultural stakeholders asked the administration to continue negotiating and remove the tariffs outright.

Initially, things were looking grim for the growers, but fortunately the US domestic market picked up most of the slack with several repeat purchasers who appreciated the quality of the fruit.


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