China continues tax increases on locally grown fruit
YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. -- A new tariff from China is impacting top agriculture products here in Washington. This tariff puts a 50 percent tax on fruits exported to China such as pears, apples and cherries.
Local farmers such as Scott McIlrath said this is forcing farmers to sell more of their crops locally which is hurting their bottom line.
"That brings down the price because there's just more cherries in a smaller market," McIlrath said.
It is peak cherry season and the Northwest Horticultural Council said China is the Pacific Northwest's number one market for cherries, selling $127 million worth to them last year.
Horticultural Council President Mark Powers said if the tariffs are here to stay, everyone will feel the effects.
"Unfortunately it's going to go back to the grower return," Powers said. "So less money in the growers' pocket means there's less money in our general economy's pocket."
Powers said they don't see the tariffs going away anytime soon and they are preparing for the worst for the upcoming apple season.
McIlrath said he is concerned that if the relationship with China is lost, it will be hard to build back up.
"China is now importing cherries from Turkey and once that relationship has been developed, it's very hard for us to get back into it," he said.
McIlrath said other local farmers are talking about giving up farming altogether if the tariffs continue. However, he said he doesn't want to give up and wants to work on finding solutions.
Local farmers said they're anticipating even bigger impacts during apple season because nearly 30 percent of apples are exported out of the country.