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Valley Farmers Brace For Chinese Tariffs

California Citrus Mutual
Oranges, grapes, raisins, almonds and pistachios are a few of the dozens of San Joaquin Valley crops now facing 15 percent tariffs in China.

In response to the Trump administration’s tariffs on Chinese steel, the Chinese government over the weekend announced tariffs on many American products.

The list of 128 items with new tariffs includes almonds, oranges, grapes and dozens of other crops, which could threaten hundreds of millions of dollars in annual exports out of the San Joaquin Valley. 

"On average, the California ag industry exports anywhere from a quarter to a third of what we produce," says Ryan Jacobsen, CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, "and in many cases you just don’t go find additional markets to make up for a market the size of China."

On the list are 5 of the Valley’s top 10 grossing crops, which now face tariffs of 15 percent.

China and Hong Kong together have grown to be the single largest importer of U.S. tree nuts and the fourth largest importer of U.S. citrus - worth a combined $1.5 billion on those commodity groups alone.

Now, says Joel Nelson, the president of the trade group California Citrus Mutual, "The market share that we’ve been trying to develop over the past several years becomes expendable and there’s an opportunity for others to steal it." 

The tariffs went into effect Monday, affecting some products already en route to China.

Kerry Klein is an award-winning reporter whose coverage of public health, air pollution, drinking water access and wildfires in the San Joaquin Valley has been featured on NPR, KQED, Science Friday and Kaiser Health News. Her work has earned numerous regional Edward R. Murrow and Golden Mike Awards and has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Environmental Journalists. Her podcast Escape From Mammoth Pool was named a podcast “listeners couldn’t get enough of in 2021” by the radio aggregator NPR One.
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