TRI-CITIES, Wash. – Apples growers throughout Washington are taking a major hit, after Mexico imposed a 20 percent tariff on imports on Tuesday.
That's in response to the Trump administration's tariffs on aluminum and steel imports from Mexico.
In a statement on Tuesday, Rep. Dan Newhouse said:
“A trade war with Washington’s agriculture trading partners and America’s closest allies is not in anyone’s interest. I warned the Administration of unintended consequences of retaliatory tariffs on Central Washington’s agricultural economy, so Mexico’s announcement should be no surprise. Today we see those consequences playing out for apple, cherry, potato and dairy producers in particular. Washington is the most trade-reliant export economy in the U.S., and the Administration must recognize the necessity of preventing retaliation on American producers by continuing to negotiate with our trading partners for a solution that ensures a fair and equitable trading relationship. I will continue to press the Administration on the negative impact of tariffs on America’s farmers and the need to mitigate that damage.”
"Mexico is just a phenomenal consumer of Washington apples,” said Todd Fryhover, Washington Apple Commission president.
Washington produces two-thirds of all apples in the U.S. and represents 90-95 percent of all the nation’s apple exports.
The industry itself has a value of approximately $2.75 billion to the state’s economy.
Last year, Washington state growers shipped nearly 14 million 40-pound cartons of apples to Mexico, valued at more than $215 million.
"That gives you a little background information to show how important Mexico and exports are to the apple industry in Washington state," Fryhover said.
Apple farmers said the new tariff will have an impact on their bottom line.
"There’s nothing we can really do about it,” said Kurt Tonnemaker, an apple grower. “We’re going to have to pick those apples come this fall and we sell the apples to the warehouse. The warehouse sells them for a lower price and we get less money for them to make up the difference in the price and the tariff."
The Washington Apple Commission hopes the countries can come to the table to find a resolution.
The commission said the silver lining is that at least they’ve shipped 80 percent of their product already for the 2017 crop year. The new crop season starts again in August.
The commission doesn’t know how long the tariff is going to be implemented, but agriculture leaders said the community in Central Washington needs to understand that the Evergreen state is very heavily dependent upon international trade.
"Believe it or not, not only apples but also pears, cherries, wheat, alfalfa, the products go on, and on, and a on," Fryhover said.
He said we're fortunate to be in this area and enjoy the proximity to the ports of Tacoma and Seattle, benefiting from tremendous business throughout the world.
“So, when there is some type of a trade disruption, which we're experiencing not only in Mexico but also China and maybe even in India, it is going to have a ripple effect there's no question about that," Fryhover said.