Ag Today June 18, 2018

California farmers, politicians won’t feel full impact of Trump tariff wars until fall

BY EMILY CADEI

The Sacramento Bee – June 15, 2018 10:13 AM

WASHINGTON
David Phippen’s almond orchards in Manteca are a few months away from harvest, the nuts still green on the trees. That gives him some breathing room before China’s tariffs on almonds — California’s largest agricultural export — and other crops really bite.

It also buys Republicans in Washington some time to defuse President Trump’s simmering trade feuds with not only China, the target of an updated round of U.S. tariffs on Friday, but also top export markets Europe, Mexico and Canada.

If they fail, it could spark a far more serious backlash in traditionally Republican parts of the California, just weeks before the contentious mid-term elections in November.

“We’re just about finished selling the 2017 almond crop,” said Phippen, co-owner of Travaille and Phippen, a third-generation almond grower, packer and shipper. So “it really isn’t a big deal if China isn’t buying almonds from us today,” he said. But “by the middle of October, when the new crop is coming in, we’re going to be real excited if China isn’t actively buying almonds.”

That would create yet another political headache for Central Valley Republicans Jeff Denham of Turlock, David Valadao of Hanford and Devin Nunes of Tulare, who all face energized Democratic opposition as they seek another term in Congress. Democrats have already tried to attack the GOP incumbents for not pushing back against Trump trade policies.

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