Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Could be Affected by Steel Tariff

HYANNIS – A possible trade war could have a major impact on growers of the state’s largest cash crop.

In response to the Trump Administration’s move to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, the European Union is considering a 25% tariff on cranberry exports from the U.S.

“The European market is our oldest and most well established export market for cranberries,” said Brian Wick, the executive director of the Cape Cod Cranberry Grower’s Association. “It certainly has our attention and our concern.”

The EU is the top consumer of cranberry exports from Massachusetts, which is responsible for 15 percent of the world’s cranberries.

About 1 million barrels of cranberries, which are 100 pounds each, are exported from North America to the continent each year.

“Being so close geographically to Europe, a lot of our fruit is exported – so of that 1 million barrels a good percentage of it is coming from Massachusetts growers,” Wick said.

Wick said the association is making sure Congress is aware of the impact the tariffs could have.

“We’re just letting them know that this certainly is going to have an economic impact on our growers so if anything can be done to avoid the situation we are very much in favor of it,” Wick said. “We are definitely caught in between here and just hoping that these things get resolved for the positive.”

Wick said the timing of the tariff issue for growers is not ideal.

“The industry continues to struggle with pricing,” he said. “We still have struggling farmers out there trying to hang on to their farms.”

It is also a time when cranberry growers are trying to expand its exports to new overseas markets.

“By having increased tariffs put on the exported products it’s just going to complicate that even further,” Wick said. “It’s definitely coming at a bad time for the industry.”

In terms of worldwide consumption, Wick said sweetened dried cranberries are driving the industry.

Another concern with tariffs placed on U.S. cranberry exports is losing overseas business to Canada. Over the last few years Quebec has surpassed Massachusetts as the second largest producer of the fruit, behind Wisconsin.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Thursday that Trump has decided to “pause” steel and aluminum tariffs for U.S. allies, including the EU.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

Material from the Associated Press was used in this article.

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