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July 26, 2018

Trade war update: Blueberry exports lag, King urges aid for lobster industry

Courtesy / Wild Blueberry Association of North America)
Courtesy / Wild Blueberry Association of North America)
Wild Maine blueberries are among the agricultural crops that face higher Chinese tariffs in retaliation for President Trump's tariff hikes on billions of dollars of Chinese goods.

Maine growers of wild blueberries are seeing signs that an escalating trade war could hurt this year's exports to China, which imposed new duties on a host of imported U.S. products starting July 6 in retaliation for President Trump's tariff hikes on billions of dollars of Chinese goods.

Trump's action was in response to complaints about China's trade surplus with the United States and technology policies he sees as harmful to U.S. companies.

The Bangor Daily News reported that, in 2017, the state exported nearly 2 million pounds of wild blueberries to China. So far this year, Maine has exported 75,398 pounds.

"We had really been seeing some positive movement, and this round of trade disputes has thrown some cold water on that," Nancy McBrady, the executive director of the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine, told the newspaper. "This escalating trade war is unfortunate."

For Maine's wild blueberry industry, the falloff in Chinese exports comes on the heels of a depressed overall market in 2017. Poor growing conditions and a glut from the previous season resulted in a 33% drop in production from 2016, to 67.8 million pounds, and a 37% drop in the harvest's value, to $17.6 million, The Ellsworth American recently reported.

Also, surplus supplies from recent years and a resultant drop in prices to farmers motivated some growers to scale back. Maine's industry has been looking for new buyers to help drive up demand and improve prices.

The BDN reported that the Maine Potato Board is also monitoring the situation, although Maine potatoes are generally sold nationally or to Canada. The biggest risk, Maine Potato Board Executive Director Don Flannery told the newspaper, is if the major potato exporters in the Pacific Northwest end up flooding the U.S. and Canadian markets with potatoes they normally would sell to China and Taiwan.

"If those potatoes no longer have a market outside the country, they'll have to find a market somewhere else," he said.

Trade war update: Blueberry exports lag, King urges aid for lobster industry

By Staff

Maine growers of wild blueberries are seeing signs that an escalating trade war could hurt this year's exports to China, which imposed new duties on a host of imported U.S. products starting July 6 in retaliation for President Trump's tariff hikes on billions of dollars of Chinese goods in response to complaints about its trade surplus and technology policies.

The Bangor Daily News https://bangordailynews.com/2018/07/26/homestead/maine-blueberry-industry-expected-to-be-affected-by-trade-disputes/ reported that, in 2017, the state exported nearly 2 million pounds of wild blueberries to China. So far this year, Maine has exported 75,398 pounds.

"We had really been seeing some positive movement, and this round of trade disputes has thrown some cold water on that," Nancy McBrady, the executive director of the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine, told the newspaper. "This escalating trade war is unfortunate."

For Maine's wild blueberry industry, the falloff in Chinese exports comes on the heels of a depressed overall market in 2017. Poor growing conditions and a glut from the previous season resulted in a 33% drop in production from 2016, to 67.8 million pounds, and a 37% drop in the harvest's value, to $17.6 million, the Ellsworth American recently reported.

http://www.mainebiz.biz/article/20180709/NEWS01/180709958/as-blueberry-harvest-begins-outcome-uncertain

Also, surplus supplies from recent years and a resultant drop in prices to farmers motivated some growers to scale back. Maine's industry has been looking for new buyers to help drive up demand and improve prices.

http://www.mainebiz.biz/article/20171113/NEWS0101/171119984/maine%E2%80%99s-wild-blueberry-harvest-drops-precipitously

The BDN reported that the Maine Potato Board is also monitoring the situation, although Maine potatoes are generally sold nationally or to Canada. The biggest risk, Maine Potato Board Executive Director Don Flannery told the newspaper, is if the major potato exporters in the Pacific Northwest end up flooding the U.S. and Canadian markets with potatoes they normally would sell to China and Taiwan.

"If those potatoes no longer have a market outside the country, they'll have to find a market somewhere else," he said.

King to Trump: What about the lobster industry?

On Tuesday the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a $12 billion plan to assist farmers hurt in trade disputes with China and other countries.

The Denver Post reported the program is expected to start taking effect around Labor Day and would involve direct payments to producers of soybeans, which have been hit hard by retaliation to the Trump tariffs, along with sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy and farmers raising hogs. https://www.denverpost.com/2018/07/25/trump-aids-farmers-hurt-by-tariffs/ King Statement on U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, responded with a strongly worded statement asking the USDA why the proposed $12 billion in aid to farmers affected by retaliatory tariffs would not extend to the lobster industry.

Here's his statement in its entirety:
"Maine's lobster industry is a vital piece of our state's economy, and is inseparable from our state's identity. I recently spent two days in Stonington, the lobster-landing capital of our state, and what I saw was a reflection of every industry in Maine: hardworking people who want to sell Maine products across the nation and across the globe.
"Unfortunately, these fiercely independent people have now become collateral damage in an escalating international dispute. We never should have been here in the first place — a 25% tariff on Chinese products resulted in a dollar-for-dollar tariff on America's agricultural sector — and now, the administration is scrambling to offer a bailout to affected industries. But if the administration is hoping to use a $12 billion Band-aid to cover the damage inflicted by their misguided trade war, they're going to need a bigger band-aid — because as of right now, this plan does nothing for the hardworking Maine lobstermen, and processors, and dealers, who are rapidly losing ground to foreign competitors in one of their most valuable export markets — a market that they have spent years developing.
"If the administration drags hardworking Maine people into a situation that threatens their livelihood, then that same administration should step up and make them whole. The inclusion of the domestic lobster industry in this $12 billion plan would help our coastal communities weather this crisis they did not create, but at the end of the day this patch is just that — a patch. The administration should extend relief where it can, but this is not a long-term strategy. They must end this trade war, and make a deal that's fair for this industry and the hardworking Maine people who rely on lobsters to earn a living."

Pingree co-sponsors bill to aid fishermen
U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine District 1, announced Wednesday she is cosponsoring a bill U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., to provide disaster relief to fishermen who have been harmed by retaliatory tariffs spurred by the Trump administration's trade actions.

"[T]here are many other industries that deserve trade relief as well," she said in a statement. https://pingree.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/statement-usda-trade-relief-farmers "This includes Maine's lobster industry, which has just been hit with an additional Chinese tariff of 25%. Where is relief for them and other industries that have been affected? What is the plan to restore stability for all impacted businesses, including farmers? I hope the Administration answers these questions quickly, because this problem shows no sign of getting any better any time soon."

King to White House: What about the lobster industry?

On Tuesday the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a $12 billion plan to assist farmers hurt in trade disputes with China and other countries.

The Denver Post reported the program is expected to start taking effect around Labor Day and would involve direct payments to producers of soybeans, which have been hit hard by retaliation to the Trump tariffs, along with sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy and farmers raising hogs.

U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, responded with a strongly worded statement asking the USDA why the proposed $12 billion in aid to farmers affected by retaliatory tariffs would not extend to the lobster industry.

Here's his statement in its entirety:

"Maine's lobster industry is a vital piece of our state's economy, and is inseparable from our state's identity. I recently spent two days in Stonington, the lobster-landing capital of our state, and what I saw was a reflection of every industry in Maine: hardworking people who want to sell Maine products across the nation and across the globe.

"Unfortunately, these fiercely independent people have now become collateral damage in an escalating international dispute. We never should have been here in the first place — a 25% tariff on Chinese products resulted in a dollar-for-dollar tariff on America's agricultural sector — and now, the administration is scrambling to offer a bailout to affected industries. But if the administration is hoping to use a $12 billion Band-aid to cover the damage inflicted by their misguided trade war, they're going to need a bigger band-aid — because as of right now, this plan does nothing for the hardworking Maine lobstermen, and processors, and dealers, who are rapidly losing ground to foreign competitors in one of their most valuable export markets — a market that they have spent years developing.

"If the administration drags hardworking Maine people into a situation that threatens their livelihood, then that same administration should step up and make them whole. The inclusion of the domestic lobster industry in this $12 billion plan would help our coastal communities weather this crisis they did not create, but at the end of the day this patch is just that — a patch. The administration should extend relief where it can, but this is not a long-term strategy. They must end this trade war, and make a deal that's fair for this industry and the hardworking Maine people who rely on lobsters to earn a living."

Pingree co-sponsors bill to aid fishermen

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine District 1, announced Wednesday she is cosponsoring a bill U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., to provide disaster relief to fishermen who have been harmed by retaliatory tariffs spurred by the Trump administration's trade actions.

"[T]here are many other industries that deserve trade relief as well," she said in a statement. "This includes Maine's lobster industry, which has just been hit with an additional Chinese tariff of 25%. Where is relief for them and other industries that have been affected? What is the plan to restore stability for all impacted businesses, including farmers? I hope the administration answers these questions quickly, because this problem shows no sign of getting any better any time soon."

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