Washington wheat organizations fear ‘serious losses’ for farmers with China’s tariffs

RITZVILLE, Wash. — Northwest farmers “are bracing for serious losses” after China announced 25 percent tariffs on U.S. wheat in response to President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Beijing, wheat farmers associations said Wednesday.

More than 12.5 million bushels of the Northwest’s soft white wheat class have been shipped to China during the 2017/2018 marketing year so far, a flow that is expected to be severely curtailed when the tariff goes into effect, the Washington Grain Commission said.

“Pacific Northwest farmers are bracing for serious losses in the Chinese market,” the commission said.

China has also imposed tariffs on soybeans, corn, cotton, sorghum and beef.

“It appears the Chinese are attempting to get the attention of the Trump administration by harming many of the people who voted for the president in the first place,” said Gary Bailey, chairman of the Washington Grain Commission. “If my own reaction is any indication, it’s a strategy that’s working.”

Marci Green, president of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, said the tariff represents another challenge facing Eastern Washington farmers during a period of low prices and agronomic difficulties.

“I’ve read that Trump trade officials suggest that parts of the economy hurt by the Chinese tariffs are going to have to weather the storm for the greater good. I don’t think those people really understand how precarious things are in farm country,” she said.