As pecan growers worry about tariffs, Georgia Grown program looks to shine light on local farmers

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News 3 told you how the trade battle between the U.S. and China has some farmers worried about their bottom line.
Now Georgia’s Agriculture Commissioner is talking about the issue.
In a pecan orchard in Tattnall County, producers across the state are really feeling the impact of the trade war with China.  
today we spoke with the commissioner of agriculture about the situation.

Gary Black, Georgia Agriculture Commissioner, says, “Our producers feel like they’re holding up a bit of the world and the Congress–well, we’re not getting any action from anybody.”
Pecan farmers are used to being top level contributors to agriculture exports out of Georgia.  But growers say the Chinese tariffs deliver a one-two punch to many of our pecan producers.
Michael Jordan, a Toombs County pecan farmer says,  “There’s more than just not selling the pecans there.  There’s a lot of products produced in China as we know, that’s purchased here for our production and so with that being said, we’ve seen quite an increase in price.”

So pecan producers’ double whammy from the tariff hike means a double bite from a very slim profit margin. Jefferson County pecan farmer and accumulator Emory Mixon explains, “Let me break it down for the average person. If you make $100,000 a year and the tariff comes along and took 33 percent of your gross salary, that’ll leave you approximately $67,000. Could you survive 33 percent less than what you currently need to make? That’s what the tariffs have done.”

Black hopes for the best, but has a game plan to prepare pecan farmers for a worst case scenario with Chinese tariff increases.

“What we’ve got to do is respond by being proactive in the marketplace, which is precisely what we’ve done with partnering with our pecan growers.  We have a very interesting initiative going on with building a new trade platform out of Taiwan, looking to expand into markets in Indonesia, and certainly into India.” 

Georgia Grown and the successful Vidalia onion campaign

We take a look at a very successful Georgia Grown campaign when it comes to the Vidalia onion.
Pecan producers are hoping for some of the marketing success enjoyed by Georgia grown Vidalia onions–but those producers are not resting on the laurels of their crop’s reputation. They continue to get the word out that true Vidalia onions are a Georgia original.
A bus tour in Tattnall County is filled with international and national media guests, grocery buyer executives, state officials and culinary experts. It pulled out of Savannah on Wednesday, heading into the heart of Vidalia onion country.  The first stop is a site tour of Bland Farms, the state’s biggest producer of Vidalia onions.  
Jack Spruill of the Georgia Dept. of Agriculture says, “So we need to reach out to those people who create that following to teach them and help them understand what we do in this state, what Georgia Grown brings to this table for them to prepare.”

Georgia Agriculture is one of the national leaders in farming a wide variety of crops and products. These guests can spread the word of the good things that grow here.

“We speak agriculture as the Department of Agriculture and we’re learning the new language of food.  We’re doing everything we can to do that because the commonality of all people is centered around food.”

Georgia Grown is a marketing and branding tool for agriculture and agritourism. The Department of Agriculture strives to reach the global market.

Delbert Bland of Bland Farms says, “This is a world economy. This is not just China.  It’s not just the U.S. It’s the world economy and you got to reach out there and touch people.”

Getting a hands-on look at the particulars of the production of the Vidalia onion makes a difference. The writers we spoke with say it gives them that boots on the ground, first-hand experience to share with their readers.

Food writer Ben Jarrell says, “Well I certainly wouldn’t consider myself an influencer, I hope that I do influence people with my writing.”

Erica Key of Eating with Erica adds, “I think it’s very important to know what you’re eating and I’m a big person on stories.  I love to see the story behind what I’m eating.  To see how difficult it is to farm and everything that goes into it, so I think it’s really eye-opening and it gives a great chance to see how we can support our local Georgia farmers.”

And that’s the point tour planners want their guests to share.  

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