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Utah Department of Agriculture concerned about Chinese tariffs

SALT LAKE CITY – China’s newly imposed tariffs on American goods have the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food worried.  They’re hoping to improve trade relations with other parts of the country.

Department Commissioner LuAnn Adams issued a statement saying she’s most concerned about a Utah’s fruit growers and pork farmers.  Just last year, $20 million worth of pork products went from Utah to China, and Department Director of Marketing Andy Pierucci says there’s one big potential problem.

“Consumers in China are going to choose to purchase their products elsewhere, as will retail buyers,” Pierucci says.

The pork could be sold in other markets, but, Pierucci believes there’s a problem with that, too.

He says, ““It’s mostly going to end up back in the domestic market, which is going to drive down the prices of these commodities, impacting the bottom line for these farmers and ranchers in the state.”

Along with all that pork, the state estimates Utah farmers send $300 thousand worth of fruit to China as well.  Luckily, many farmers have locked in their prices for the next six months.  However, they could be in real trouble if a trade war extends past that.  So, the department they’re hoping to strengthen existing trade agreements with Canada and southeast Asia.

“We don’t want to pull in all of our eggs in one basket,” Pierucci says.

Plus, they’re hoping to create new ones.

Pierucci says, “I’ll be going on a trade mission with the Governor, World Trade Center Utah, other organizations and a few farmers from the state to Mexico this weekend.”

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Andy Wong)