Ga. Pecan Growers Brace For Lower Profits With Chinese Tariffs

According to the USDA, Georgia leads the nation in U.S. production of pecans at 32 percent.

Pixabay Images

Georgia’s pecan farmers are bracing for lower profits during the upcoming harvest.

That is because of a nearly 47 percent tariff China plans to impose on U.S. pecans. Those come in retaliation to the tariffs the Trump administration imposed on Chinese goods in early July.

“The price [of pecans] has gone up in the last 8-10 years to a more favorable profit, and I’m afraid it’s going to set us back a few years if it gets closer to production costs,” Brad Ellis, vice president of the U.S. Pecan Grower’s Association, said. “It’ll take us more time to find another country to offset that.”

Ellis is also on the board of the Georgia Pecan Grower’s Association, and  works for Ellis Brother’s Pecans, which harvests 3,000 acres of pecans in Vienna, Georgia.

According to the USDA, Georgia leads the nation in U.S. production of pecans at 32 percent. That’s followed by New Mexico, which makes 22 percent and Texas, which makes 18 percent. Between 2009 and 2013, nearly 27 percent of total U.S. supply was exported to China.

Gary Black, Georgia’s commissioner of agriculture, said about a third of all pecans produced in Georgia are also exported to China.

“We have a concentrated portfolio so now this is a challenge to us to try to broaden our portfolio,” Black said.

Black said his department will spend more time marketing pecans to help pecan gromers in the meantime.

“I would concur with Secretary Sonny Perdue that you know farmers are patriots and maybe arguably some of the strongest patriots in the entire country, but farmers can’t pay their bills with patriotism,” Black said. “So it is important that we come to an agreement soon so that we can return to a free market and I’m still remaining hopeful that the actions that we’ve taken will help get us there.”

Black said he’s hopeful the Trump administration’s strategies will benefit farmers in the long run.

“I’ve talked to Secretary Perdue numerous times in recent weeks and it’s not proper for there to be three to five hundred billion dollar trade deficit with China and if we ask anyone in the Walmart parking lot, ‘Do you think that’s right?’, I think most citizens will say ‘No, that’s not right.’ Now we may have disagreements on how we get their attention,” Black said.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced last week he would authorize twelve billion dollars in aid for farmers impacted by the trade war.