GILROY (KPIX 5) — The garlic market has been something of a “turf war” for years with China. But new tariffs on Chinese goods could tip the scales for some farmers.
In Gilroy they’re calling it a bumper crop of garlic. “This year we had perfect climate conditions, resulting in a 10 to 20 percent increase in yield,” according to Ken Christoper, Vice President of Christopher Ranch.
Christopher says it’s the perfect time to finally hit back at China when it comes to garlic.
“Since 2001, over $600 million in damages has been done to the U.S. garlic industry,” he said. “Too many Chinese exporters continue to flood the U.S. market with illegally-dumped product. We’re certainly ready to go to war with the Chinese.”
That war is in the form of high tariffs on Chinese garlic. Christopher Ranch, the largest U.S. producer of garlic, is breaking away from the position of many farmers.
Christopher is just back from Washington, D.C. where he lobbied to help win a new 10 percent tariff on Chinese garlic, which begins next week. It then kicks up to 25 percent on January 1st.
“At that point, it’s going to block a lot of Chinese garlic from coming into the country,” said Christopher.
U.S. growers produce millions of pounds of garlic every year. China produces billions of pounds of garlic, which they then try to sell around the world.
Some countries, like Mexico block any Chinese garlic from coming in to protect their growers. Until now, American growers say the U.S. has done little to protect them.
“What the tariff is going to do is enable us to get our product to more consumers than ever before.”
Christopher says his company will not raise prices on garlic when the tariffs take effect, but some consumers are skeptical because tariffs often cause prices on other consumer goods to go up.
Christopher agrees that a broader trade war with china is probably not in the country’s interest but maintains, “The U.S. garlic industry is under attack right now and something needed to be done.”
Christopher Ranch and other U.S. growers will respond by expanding, and planting more fields to make up for the projected loss of Chinese garlic in the American marketplace.