Wisconsin Growers, Producers Weigh Impact of Chinese Tariffs

Growers and producers are concerned about what the tariffs may mean for their industries.

China slapped a 25 percent tariff on United States pork products, including everything from hind legs to chops. More than $1 billion in U.S. pork was shipped to China last year. Wisconsin produced 305,000 hogs in 2017, according to national statistics. Vaassen hopes the tariffs will be short-lived.

Tammy Vaassen, Wisconsin Pork Association executive vice president, said Wisconsin producers exported about a quarter of the pork produced in the U.S. to overseas partners. Of that amount, China was the third largest market last year.

“They’re very dependent on our export opportunities,” she said. “If we take away some of those opportunities, we certainly need to add to that or we’re going to lose farmers based on the financial implications that will occur.”

China has also placed a 15 percent tariff on cranberries. Tom Lochner, Wisconsin Cranberry Growers Association executive director, said they’ve been trying to grow markets in China due to an oversupply of cranberries driving down prices.

“The Chinese market and India have been identified as important new markets for cranberries in North America, so we just started our efforts in China to grow that market there,” he said. “We have a small footprint there and we’re trying to grow that. Things that make our products uncompetitive or more expensive in China are obviously going to have an impact on those efforts.”

President Donald Trump is preparing to impose around $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods.