US-China trade war expected to hit Washington farmers hard
Washington’s farmers were dealt another blow this week when China announced it was pulling out of the U.S agriculture market. The move came in response to President Trump’s plans for the US to impose a 10 percent tariff on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods starting in September.
Among those most affected by the escalating trade war are the Pacific Northwest’s cherry farmers who rely on China as their top customer overseas. The Northwest Horticultural Council told The Seattle Times approximately $130 million worth of the of the region’s cherries went to China last year.
Meanwhile, Washington’s wheat farmers haven’t had any business from China since the first round of tariffs came down in 2018.
“At the time they were the fifth largest market,” said Glen Squires, Washington Grain Commission CEO. “It’s not good if you have a major buyer that’s not buying.”
Squires said 90 percent of Washington’s wheat is exported. The Philippines is the number one buyer followed by Japan and South Korea. About 75 percent of the crop goes to Asia, according to Squires.
“And we were exporting soft white wheat out of the Pacific Northwest (to China) up to 300,000 metric tons so it’s been a hit,” Squires said.
Nationwide, China made up more than $5.5 billion in U.S. farm product exports last year, according to the U.S. Census. President Trump has tweeted farmers know that “China will not be able to hurt them” because the president has stood with them. The administration has tried to ease the pain for American farmers caught up in the trade war by rolling out two packages of aid worth $27 billion.