Garlic Farmers Cheer Trump
That’s right, folks. US garlic farmers are applauding the recent trade war escalation after sales of locally-grown garlic went skyrocketing after decades of steady decline. What’s going on here?
For years, cheaper Chinese garlic has slowly been chipping away at the US market, pushing smaller producers out to leave just three commercial farms in operation. The recent increase in tariffs from 10% to 25% on $200bn in Chinese goods has finally given local producers enough room to compete in the market.
Fortuitously, the May 9th tariff increase coincided perfectly with the US garlic harvest and farmers are anticipating a sizable surge in the coming weeks. But not everyone is smiling. Companies with garlic-infused recipes, such as McCormick (#mccorm), say that Californian garlic is not a feasible substitute and alters the taste and appeal of many of its products – similar to the taste differences between regional wines.
But that’s still small fry compared to the effects felt by soybean farmers. Producers have been forced to cut production and stockpile the millions of tons of produce meant for Chinese markets as prices for their hard work fall through the floor. Prices have dropped more than 20% since the start of the trade war and may have plenty more to go with no end to the conflict in sight.
Not only soybeans, but also specialty crop farmers like nut and cherry-growers have been scrambling to find alternative markets to offset the loss of their biggest client. So for now it seems the garlic producers are the only ones smiling while the rest of the agri market braces for more hard times.
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