Senators raise concerns over retaliatory pecan tariffs

By:  Artesia Daily Press Staff

U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich on Friday sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to express concern with the retaliatory tariffs implemented by the Chinese government on 128 American product lines, including an additional 15-percent tariff on U.S. pecans.

The increase was made in response to U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum product imports. New Mexico is the second-largest pecan-producing state in the U.S.

In their letter, the senators urged Lighthizer to consider the negative impact restrictive import tariffs on pecans will have on U.S. pecan growers and rural agricultural economies across the country.

“Farmers and growers play a critical role in New Mexico’s economy and have shaped our state’s history, as many growers in New Mexico come from families that have cultivated land for generations,” the senators wrote. “In our home state of New Mexico, pecan production totaled 72.0 million pounds in 2016 and the value of production totaled $213.1 million, a record high for the crop.

“However, increased tariffs are already causing significant uncertainty and will make farming difficult for our states growers and producers.”

Pecans are the only tree nut indigenous to North America, and the U.S. is the world’s leading producer of pecans. The U.S. is responsible for about 80 percent of the world’s pecan supply, harvesting up to 300 million pounds of pecans every year, and China and Hong Kong have been the industry’s largest export market.