How Chinese tariffs could hurt US almond farmers - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

How Chinese tariffs could hurt US almond farmers

California almond growers worry possible Chinese tariffs could be disastrous for this year's record crop. (Source: KCRA via CNN) California almond growers worry possible Chinese tariffs could be disastrous for this year's record crop. (Source: KCRA via CNN)

MANTECA, CA (KCRA/CNN) – California is expecting a bumper crop of almonds when harvesting begins later this summer.

But many growers are worried there won't be enough demand for their nuts if China decides to hit them with a tariff.

Dave Phippen has been an almond grower for decades in San Joaquin Country, CA, where almonds are a $400 million industry.

He said California has set a new record for its almond crops, up 8 percent over last year despite cold weather this winter, with 2.4 billion pounds expected to be harvested at the end of next month.

Though growers are saying almond crops are looking bright this year, they're also not sure how retaliatory tariffs that China recently proposed on American commodities will affect prices.

"We're concerned about it," Phippen said.

Some growers said possible tariffs on almonds could raise prices by 50 percent.

"We export 70 percent of the California crop, so obviously anything that obstructs free marketing offshore is a concern to a California almond grower," Phippen said.

California currently dominates the global almond market. China is the third-largest importer of almonds.

Growers worry that Australia, another substantial almond exporter - which also has a free trade agreement with China - could overtake them in the Chinese market if China sets tariffs on U.S. almonds.

Bruce Blodgett with the San Joaquin Farm Bureau said the recent tariffs levied by the U.S. and China are raising concerns because of the uncertainty they've created.

"It does concern the growers. It does concern the processors. It concerns everybody in the industry," Blodgett said. "Hopefully they work quickly and figure these things out now rather than wait until we have a crop coming off and maybe a more difficult time marketing it."

Growers said tariffs could cause a problem with supply and demand.

"Elasticity of demand. As you raise the price, there's less demand," Phippen said. "So, we'll have to find out exactly how bad the China consumers want California almonds, and if they're willing to pay an increased price as a result of the tariff."

Copyright 2018 KCRA via CNN. Raycom News Network contributed to this report. All rights reserved.

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