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California farmers could be slammed by new China tariffs

In 2015 more than 1.8 billion pounds of almonds were processed in California.
In 2015 more than 1.8 billion pounds of almonds were processed in California.
Ezra David Romero/Valley Public Radio

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President Trump's imposition of new tariffs on steel and aluminum did not go over well with China.

If you've wondered what trade retaliation from China might look like, here it is.

Starting today, Beijing is raising tariff rates as high as 25 percent on more than 100 U.S. exports--and some of those, like almonds, pistachios and cherries, could hit California growers particularly hard.

This could be the beginning of a back-and-forth trade war between the U.S. and China. So how are farmers dealing with the news, and preparing for possible escalation of international trade battles?

Jamie Johansson is president of the California Farm Bureau Federation. He weighed in about the agricultural industry’s reaction, and whether China could be doing more harm to themselves with higher tariffs.

California exports affected by tariffs

China is our third largest destination for California products. Leading the way is our nut crops. Pistachios, almonds, then wine and we're watching this closely.

Reaction from farmers

We're not surprised. Farming has always been at the forefront of any trade war. It's one of the few sectors in the U.S. that actually runs a trade surplus with China. So we knew and prepared for that... We have a strong contingent of agriculture-focused Congress people who we're talking with.

If tariffs last a long time

We export to about 90 million countries throughout the globe, so we would certainly find other markets... Other countries would certainly become more interested [in our products]. We may have to have lower prices, and that could hurt our farmers, but we would continue to work as we always have to compete in the global economy.