Local pecan farmers feeling brunt of trade war

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LOUISVILLE, Ga. (WSAV) – New tariffs could have dire consequences for Georgia’s farmers.

In Jefferson County, some pecan producers say their livelihoods are being threatened by the rise in costs due to the U.S.-China trade war.

“It’ll be bad,” said Michael Jordan, pecan farmer. “This past year, with the tariffs that were put in place, the demand for pecans was down…so at this point, we are hoping some of that will ease before our crop is finished in the fall.“

Nearby, James Smith is planting his first pecan orchard in Georgia. He says he has spent 49 years growing walnuts in California and used to do very well in China.

“The price of our walnuts is almost half of what it was three years ago because of the tariffs mainly,” Smith said.

Once again, Smith is feeling the trade war with China shatter the profit margins of the nut he hopes to grow.

“I hate to see it,” he said. “I mean food products used as a weapon. Not necessarily a weapon, but as leverage.“

The trade war comes as pecan producers are still recovering from a natural disaster in Georgia.

“Our industry will be recuperating for 25 years from the storms we had in the last three years,” said pecan farmer/accumulator Emory Mixon.

Mixon adds that he believes some people misunderstand what tariffs can do to farmers.

“Let me break it down for the average person. If you make $100,000 a year and the tariff comes along and took 33% of your gross salary, that’ll leave you approximately $67,000,” he explained. “Could you survive 133% less than what you currently make? That’s what the tariffs have done.”

Many believe the future of the pecan industry is uncertain as long as the tariffs continue to rise. Farmers say they hope to see a solution between leaders before they are out of business.

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