Two of the biggest superpowers in the world, the United States and China, have been caught in the middle of a massive trade war. The war has been going for over a year now and has hit farmers in the Pacific Northwest very hard.
Here in the northwest, the Chinese tariffs have been felt by local farmers. Many farmers in the Pacific Northwest are afraid that if a trade agreement isn’t settled soon, other countries might step in and take their business.
President Donald Trump kicked off the action by placing tariffs on China to get Americans to buy American products according to the BBC. It took very little time for China to hit back with tariffs of their own. It is believed that Trump was trying to increase the price of Chinese goods to get Americans to buy American products. According to the BBC, China then felt the US was trying to stop them from rising to a world power. and placed their own tariffs because the U.S. was trying to limit their political power. This was only the beginning of tariffs being placed on and by both countries.
According to the BBC, the U.S. has imposed over $360 billion of tariffs on Chinese goods, while China has imposed over $110 billion of U.S. products. The U.S. and the Chinese governments don’t plan on stopping here with their tariffs. Both countries plan on placing more tariffs on each other by the end of the year according to the BBC.
The Northwest Registered Agent claimed that the $700 million a year industry of Washington grown potatoes would struggle with the newly imposed tariffs from China.
“But with China adding a 25% tax on all American fruit and vegetable imports, farmers are seeing what was once a burgeoning market, dwindle to almost nothing,” The Northwest Registered Agent wrote.
The potato foreign market is not the only crop market that the farmers here in the Kittitas Valley are worried might be affected by the Chinese tariffs. Prices have fallen on all kinds of crop markets that the farmers in the valley produce.
Brian Cortese, a local farmer on a family-owned farm, saw the price of his Timothy hay fall when foreign buyers came to purchase his farm’s hay.
“The American farmers are really feeling that pinch right now. We had a great first cutting, mainly because we had decent weather in the springtime,” said Cortese. “I felt like our hay was the greenest I’d ever seen it in June, and I thought at that time that we were going to be getting really good prices on that hay, but that wasn’t the case.”
Cortese said after that he wasn’t sure if the trade embargoes were one of the many reasons why the hay prices were lower than normal.
The tariffs and trade war can be very frustrating for many of the farmers here in the Kittitas Valley. Cortese said that the farmers of the valley are incredibly proud of what their crops mean to the community, and are proud to help build up the agricultural notoriety that the valley is famous for.
“The farmers here take a lot of pride in growing hay because we know our hay represents this community. Everybody tries to grow premium hay every year to meet that racehorse market in Japan,” said Cortese. “We always strive to do our best and produce the best product for the buyer, whether it’s in Japan, Korea or a mom and pop buying hay for their animals. We really take pride in that, and we do whatever we can to produce the best hay that we can make.”
U.S. Congresswoman Kim Schrier said that she fears that the tariffs might cost the Northwest farmers business at a local town hall meeting held in Ellensburg.
“I am also worried that if those screws get tightened too much that our cherry farmers, for example, may not have that dependable trade with China, and that New Zealand might step in, or that Australia might step in, and that business might not come back,” Schrier said to The Daily Record.
The trade war between the U.S. and China has played a significant role in how much local Kittitas farmers have been able to make when they have sold their crops at market. The farmers hope that an agreement can be made soon, so they don’t have to worry quite as much about market prices.