SEVERE WX : High Wind Warning - Wind Advisory - Flash Flood Watch - Flood Watch View Alerts

Oregon agricultural exports hit hard by US-China trade war

The trade conflicts impact Oregon agricultural producers more than other states because about 40 percent of Oregon's agricultural exports head abroad, compared to 20 percent for the rest of the U.S.

Posted: Sep 26, 2019 2:19 PM

By ANDREW SELSKY Associated Press

MARQUAM, Ore. (AP) — Rancher Jerome Rosa sat in his mud-spattered pickup truck, glumly watching some of his cows resting on a grassy slope in Oregon's fertile Willamette Valley.

Rosa, the executive director of the Oregon Cattlemen's Association, told state lawmakers a few days earlier about the disruptions to Oregon's beef exports because of the U.S.-China trade war. Also testifying were the director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture, the head of Oregon wheat producers' associations and a hazelnut expert.

Sales of U.S. beef and wheat to China have all but halted. The trade conflicts impact Oregon agricultural producers more than other states because about 40 percent of Oregon's agricultural exports head abroad, compared to 20 percent for the rest of the U.S., Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Alexis Taylor told lawmakers.

Some relief came Wednesday, when the U.S. and Japan signed a limited trade deal that will lower or eliminate tariffs and expand market access on farm and other products.

President Donald Trump's pullout from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership in 2017 had created a 10% percent tariff disadvantage in Japan for American wheat compared to other suppliers like Canada and Australia, Blake Rowe, CEO of the Oregon Wheat Commission and the Oregon Wheat Growers League, told legislators. Oregon wheat producers had taken the setback personally because Oregon growers established relations with Japan in 1949 and opened a Tokyo wheat office in 1956, Rowe said.

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, an Oregon Republican, welcomed Wednesday's agreement. Around 90% of Oregon's wheat is exported.

"Japan is a top market for Oregon wheat, and represents great opportunities to grow markets for beef, blueberries, potatoes, and wine among other Oregon products," Walden said.

Oregon is not alone in feeling the pinch. Ports in California saw a 30 percent decrease in exports to China in 2018, including a 97% decline in soybean exports, the directors of the West Coast's main ports told Trump on Monday. They warned of "irredeemable economic harm" from the trade conflict.

Low global wheat prices of about $5 per bushel have prompted Oregon wheat farmer Tim Hawkins to carefully maintain his three aging combines instead of replacing them at a cost of $500,000 each.

"That's something that you really have to analyze: what you've got as to what you would like to have," said Hawkins, whose farm is in northeastern Oregon near Pendleton. He believes other market forces, such as global supply, are more behind depressed prices than the trade wars.

But Rowe told lawmakers that the trade wars have resulted in slower wheat sales, increased inventory and lower wheat prices.

Back on his cattle ranch, Rosa said that waiting for promised benefits from America's international trade renegotiations is "like being at the bottom of a pool holding your breath and hoping that you're going to be able to go up and get a breath of air."

"We've gone from what was a very good time in our industry, to the last three years that have been extremely painful, not only for beef but also for dairy and also for many other crops," Rosa said.

Rosa told the Oregon House Interim Committee On Agriculture and Land Use that China's markets for beef opened in 2017 and that the country represents "a huge potential with a rising middle class, and an increasing beef demand." U.S. beef exports to China amounted to $30 million in 2017, and doubled to $60 million in 2018, Rosa said.

"Now we're back down to zero," Rosa said.

Rosa voted for Trump in 2016, and is reassessing his support for the 2020 election.

Darren Padget, an Oregon wheat grower and vice chairman of the U.S. Wheat Associates market development group, said he supports Trump's renegotiating of trade agreements and hard stance with China.

"There is a bigger picture than just the wheat farmer going on: It's about intellectual property and there's a lot of other things," said Padget, who traveled to New York this week to watch Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sign the bilateral deal.

Also at risk are Oregon hazelnuts, growers say. The state produces 99% of the hazelnuts grown in the United States and China has been Oregon's largest hazelnut market for 13 of the last 15 years, said Michael Severeid, who manages a hazelnut farm and is a vice president with Willamette Hazelnut Growers in Newberg, near Portland.

China's tariffs on hazelnuts soared to 65%, Taylor said. That hasn't slowed purchases but hazelnut growers fear that could happen and that Chinese buyers could turn to Turkish hazelnuts. Hazelnuts in Nutella, the popular hazelnut/cocoa sandwich spread, come from Turkey and Italy.

Oregon's sweet cherry exports have also suffered because China has insisted on more inspections and paperwork -- reducing shelf life -- and imposed retaliatory tariffs of 60%, up from 10%, Taylor told the House committee.

She emphasized Oregon's dependence on foreign trade.

"In order to have a strong agricultural economy, we have to have strong export markets," she said.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 357526

Reported Deaths: 4284
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah55810707
Washington38782324
Marion36837455
Clackamas29779309
Lane27744302
Jackson23059310
Deschutes20336125
Umatilla14492150
Linn12911131
Douglas12118243
Josephine9384196
Yamhill8715113
Klamath8020119
Polk737381
Malheur563677
Benton549431
Coos503794
Columbia382644
Jefferson376052
Lincoln319939
Union319549
Crook291846
Wasco288841
Clatsop244328
Baker203529
Tillamook196932
Hood River192837
Morrow185023
Curry180625
Harney113927
Grant100013
Lake93912
Wallowa68612
Gilliam1544
Sherman1523
Wheeler1121
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4850807

Reported Deaths: 71341
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles148419226540
Riverside3716705041
San Diego3673614183
San Bernardino3586775692
Orange3242885562
Sacramento1596362309
Kern1463481648
Fresno1463182094
Santa Clara1455431897
Alameda1206921400
San Joaquin1027761721
Ventura1010381167
Contra Costa1000181008
Stanislaus862991335
Tulare80375978
San Francisco54440649
San Mateo54168623
Monterey50911586
Solano46063341
Santa Barbara45223523
Merced42422581
Sonoma40997404
Placer39435429
Imperial36071766
Kings32938325
San Luis Obispo29973333
Madera23955285
Shasta23924352
Butte23818273
Santa Cruz21034221
Yolo20397248
Marin17706244
El Dorado17207149
Sutter13937175
Napa12898100
Yuba1011582
Tehama9534110
Humboldt9269109
Nevada916790
Mendocino766787
Lassen754347
San Benito744972
Tuolumne691790
Lake6631105
Amador547364
Siskiyou451246
Glenn438433
Calaveras391481
Del Norte358742
Colusa307618
Inyo214241
Mono16723
Plumas16607
Mariposa133916
Trinity88011
Modoc6895
Sierra1880
Unassigned1460
Alpine1050
Out of CA00
Medford
Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 57°
Brookings
Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 54°
Crater Lake
Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 57°
Grants Pass
Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 57°
Klamath Falls
Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 36°
Intense storm system brings heavy rain and gusty winds overnight into Sunday
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events