US Secretary of Agriculture, Garamendi, LaMalfa Talk Trump Tariffs with Local Farmers

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CLARKSBURG — In front of the backdrop of Bogle’s thriving grapevines – tough talk about all the ways California’s farmers and the AG community nationwide may not be thriving…. thanks in part to America’s tense trading relationship with China.

“They stole our label. They brought in bulk wine from Australia.”

A local grower cheated while trying to do business there – one of about 80 farmers picked by Congressman Doug LaMalfa and Congressman John Garamendi and invited to talk directly to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

“We’ve gotta get tough on these people,” he said.

Intense debate in the crop fields and in Congress about what the right kind of tough really is.

Several rounds of tariffs against China, meant to strengthen America’s trade profile, have hurt many of those at the foundation of it – with farmers needing $16 billion of bailout money from Trump after China put tariffs on $60 billion dollars of U.S. exports.

U.S. tarffis under Trump have increased from 10 to 25 percent.

Garrett Wallis has seen sales dip at Lassen Canyon Nursery in Redding.

“Yeah…I mean we uh see our customers….anything that’s reflected into our customers.. we sell plants over there and it’s reflected back onto us eventually.”

He helps farm bareroot strawberries and even though the president’s plan is hurting the business he works for he says…

“Everyday farmers are facing a new challenge that you have to overcome and this is one you have to press on and go through.”

For Bob and Marlene Bell,  there’s no normal ebb and flow to watching the price of their product go from $3.26 a pound to $.57 cents over the last few years.

“We’re not gonna make expenses for either of those years 2018 or 2019…the tariffs have hit us terribly and it’s not just China,” said Marlene.

Garamendi isn’t a fan of the Trump administration’s attempts to get China’s attention.

“Whether they’re successful in gaining concessions,…they haven’t been thus far.
They’ve just gained more harm.”

While one of his hosts criticized the tariffs, Secretary Perdue acknowledged bailout money might not extend into 2020 and pushed back on a quote from earlier in the week in which he said farmers were casualties of this policy.

“The focus has been on the word casualty.  It’s kind of  interesting ….that interviewer was leading the witness on that.”

He did offer some comfort for local farmers who fear they may not get any of the bailout that does exist because they weren’t previously registered with the agency.

“We’re gonna work with them individually to test and get their history and bring their documentation in about what their earnings have been, what their production might have been,” he said.


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