Nut farmers have been largely left out of the conversation on the effects of the trade war on United States (US) agriculture. However, a unique set of circumstances makes their situation arguably more desperate than that of major crop producers.
Last week, China announced another round of tariffs targeting a variety of US agricultural exports. Some of these tariffs tack on additional price hikes to tree nuts, namely almonds, pistachios, and walnuts. The EU, India, and China round out the top three export markets for US tree nuts, and they have all placed tariffs upwards of 20 percent on tree nuts in retaliation for US trade disputes with China. Making matters worse, the $12 billion aid package offered to American farmers does not include tree nut producers.
The US produces 80 percent of the world’s almond supply and exports 70 percent of this crop, but China has already bumped almond imports from Australia 17 percent this year to circumvent American suppliers. Almond shipments from the US to China have already dropped 47.5 percent from the same period last year, but given the US’s command over the almond industry, the Chinese may be forced to buy from the US, albeit at a far lower price.
Virtually all US almonds are produced in California, and a record setting 2.45 billion pound crop is expected for 2018. Almond prices have dropped 10 percent in the past two months and this year’s surplus has sent farmers scrambling to find buyers. In response, California congressional leaders wrote a bipartisan letter urging US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to secure funding for specialty-crop producers. Gro Intelligence subscribers are given the data and analytics necessary to stay up-to-date on all trade war developments.