CATCH THE BUZZ -Tariffs Estimated To Cost $2.64 Billion a Year to US Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, and in all Probability, a Hit on Beekeepers that Pollinate.

By: Chris Koger

University of California economists estimate U.S. exporters of 10 fruits and nuts to China and other markets could see a loss of $2.64 billion a year due to new tariffs — and up to $3.34 billion a year when the potential effect on other markets is considered.

Daniel Sumner and Tristan Hanon, of the Agricultural Issues Center and Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC-Davis, recently released the study in the wake of increasing tariffs levied by the U.S. and China on various products they trade. Many U.S. items seeing new tariffs are agricultural.

According to the researchers, these are the commodities facing new tariffs in China, Mexico, India and Turkey, and estimated revenue loss in a year due to tariffs in those countries:

  • Almonds,  -$1.58 billion
  • Apples,  -$419 million
  • Pistachios,  -$384 million
  • Walnuts,  -$315 million
  • Pecans,  -$224 million
  • Sweet cherries, -$160 million
  • Oranges, -$133, million
  • Table grapes, -$86 million
  • Raisins, -26 million
  • Sour cherries, -11 million

The study became news as U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue visited ag operations in California’s Central Valley early in the week of Aug. 13.

Farmers for Free Trade, which has been critical of Trump administration trade policies and their effect on U.S. farmers, said the study underscores how policies are harming farmers.

“The trade war comes with a steep price for farmers in California and across the country,” Farmers for Free Trade Executive Director Brian Kuehl said in a news release. “Producers and growers have spent years cultivating markets for commodity exports, only to see foreign competitors capture those markets overnight. Tariffs hurt American farmers by depressing prices and taking away their ability to compete.”

Meanwhile, to add insult to injury….

Report suggests health halo may be fading for produce.

The latest FreshFacts on Retail report shows produce sales slowing for a third straight quarter.

Nielsen and the United Fresh Produce Association, which put together the report, noted the change may indicate that the health halo around produce could be fading.

“For now the third consecutive quarter, the produce department experienced a decrease in average dollars sold,” the organizations said in the report. “Riding the wave of health and wellness may have finally run its course as shoppers now have more ‘clean’ options available across the store. Understanding generational, cultural and economic differences plays a vital role in store success. Exposure to new products and new uses has changed the way consumers engage with food, and for those retailers and produce companies who can adapt to meet these changing needs can hopefully turn things around for the produce department.”

Lettuce sales took a major hit as part of the fallout of the spring E. coli outbreak linked to romaine.

Other vegetables with notable volume declines include tomatoes (6.2%), potatoes (7.7%) and onions (5.1%), per the report. Those slides were attributed to higher prices.

Higher prices — for supply and other reasons — affected several big fruit categories as well, with volume declines in apples (6.3%), bananas (5.3%) and grapes (9.5%) among others.

Who else will this affect?

 In the end, all this will filter down to cost of production of these crops, and one cost is pollination. Commodity growers have already been promised millions of dollars to offset these lost exports. Any chance beekeepers will see any of that when the price for pollination drops through the floor next spring?