Udall, Heinrich Raise Concerns With Retaliatory Chinese Tariffs That Hurt N.M. Pecan Growers

In letter to U.S. Trade Representative, Senators highlight negative impact of President Trump’s trade policies on U.S. pecan growers and rural economies across the country

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich 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, in response to U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum products imports. New Mexico is the second largest pecan-producing state in the U.S.

In their letter, the Senator’s urged U.S. Trade Representative 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.  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,” wrote the Senators.  

Pecans are the only tree nut indigenous to North America, and the United States is the world’s leading producer of pecans.  The United States 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. 

A copy of the letter is available here and below. 

The Hon. Robert Lighthizer

United States Trade Representative

Office of the United States Trade Representative

607 17th St NW

Washington, D.C. 20508 

Dear Representative Lighthizer,

As United States Senators representing the second leading pecan-producing state, we write to express our deep 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, in response to U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum products imports.  We respectfully request you consider how recent U.S. trade actions against China and retaliatory tariffs will harm American pecan growers and devastate rural agriculture economies. 

As you are aware, pecans are the only tree nut indigenous to North America, and the United States is the world’s leading producer of pecans.  The United States 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. 

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.  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. 

Furthermore, restrictive import tariffs on U.S. pecans will undermine the concerted efforts of American pecan growers to reduce Chinese tariffs on pecans from 24 percent in 2015 to 7 percent and constrain recent export growth.  In 2017, exports of both in-shell and kernels to China and Hong Kong reached record levels of 30,551 metric tons, valued at $197 million.  Some of this increase can be attributed to the reductions in the import tariff.

Given the impact of the administration’s trade policies impact on New Mexico, we urge you to carefully consider the negative impact restrictive import tariffs on pecans will have on U.S. pecan growers and rural economies across the country. 

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

cc: Sonny Perdue, Secretary, Department of Agriculture