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U.S. Trade War With China Is Hitting Central Valley Almond Growers Hard

Amy Quinton
Capital Public Radio

As the U.S. trade war with China continues, farmers in California’s Central Valley are feeling the pinch.

Jay Mahil is one such farmer: he grows almonds in Madera, and is the fourth generation in his family to do so. He says he normally exports a lot of his crop overseas to China, but with the trade war, he and other nut growers are starting to get edged out.

“You know, some of the other countries have been capitalizing on this, especially Australia,” says Mahil.

The Trump administration promised relief to affected farmers last week in the form of a $16 billion aid package. But Mahil says if you break down the numbers, the aid won’t go very far.

“You’re going to get 3 cents a pound, which is pennies on the dollar,” he says. “It’s something, but, you know, in the overall scheme of things it’s not going to equate out to what growers are missing out on.”

The almonds that would have been exported to China will still get sold to remaining markets. But Mahil says farmers likely won’t get the best price, since they’re now operating with a surplus.

He adds that it’s taking months for farmers to get payouts promised in the fall of 2018. Even still, he says farmers are hopeful President Donald Trump comes out with a better trade deal.

Laura Tsutsui was a reporter and producer for Valley Public Radio. She joined the station in 2017 as a news intern, and later worked as a production assistant and weekend host. Laura covered local issues ranging from politics to housing, and produced the weekly news program Valley Edition. She left the station in November 2020.
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