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Chinese tariffs impacting local cherry farmers

Chinese tariff impacting local cherry farmers

YAKIMA, Wash. - A new Chinese tariff implemented due to an ongoing trade dispute between the United States and China is impacting Washington grown fruit such as pears, apples and cherries.

The tariff puts a 15 percent tax on fruits exported to China.

Northwest Horticultural Council President Mark Powers said China is the number one cherry market for the Pacific Northwest and last year we shipped $127 million worth of cherries to China.

He said that loss is going to impact the growers of Washington and it will likely increase costs of the fruit right here in valley.

"We expect to ship, so it isn't going to close the market," Power said. "It will either have a price impact to consumer to a certain extent or alternatively it will impact grower returns which is what we're concerned about."

With cherry season quickly approaching, local growers are worried about the possible impacts the new tariff could have.

Local farmer Scott McIlrath of McIlrath Family Farm said if the tax stays it place, he is expecting to take a hit to his bottom line.

"If I have to cut way back, employees are cut, I don't hire, I don't buy a new tractor, I don't go out to dinner, the impacts are right down the line," he said.

McIlrath said if they can't export, they will have to compete domestically and profits would significantly decrease.

Powers said local farmers are hoping both countries can reach an agreement before we see any major impacts.

"We're hopeful that some sort of solution will come out and emerge between the two countries before cherry season," he said.

Growers said cherry season begins in June and can run until as late as August. They said it will take until around peak cherry season to see effects here in the valley and a lot of the impacts locally are going to depend on how large the cherry crop is this season.

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