American Pistachio Growers Urgently Request Tariff Mitigation from USDA
On August 27, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced actions the U.S. Department of Agriculture will take to assist farmers in response to trade damage from unjustified retaliation by foreign nations. A short-term relief strategy has been developed to protect agricultural producers while the Administration works on reciprocal trade deals to help American farmers compete globally.
USDA will authorize up to $12 billion across three programs. Two of the programs stand to support the pistachio industry, and American Pistachio Growers is working on behalf of all of its members to secure fair and just funding based on the extent of damage that the trade dispute is projected to do in our #1 market—CHINA.
On Wednesday, August 29, 2018, American Pistachio Growers (APG) took a delegation to Washington, DC for an urgent meeting with USDA Undersecretary Ted McKinney and staff from the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service. $200 million has been designated for USDA’s Agriculture Trade Promotion (ATP) program, which is intended to support international marketing efforts in order to offset the effects of tariffs. The purpose of the meeting was to request funds from this pool for the mitigation of potentially severe injury to the U.S. pistachio industry caused by China’s imposition of damaging tariffs.
Representing you in the delegation were: American Pistachio Growers Chairwoman, Sharon Roden, Roden Farms; Mia Cohen, COO, Setton Farms; Jimi Valov, Valov & Sons Farming; Dominic Pitigliano, Pitigliano Farms; Richard Matoian, American Pistachio Growers Executive Director; and Judy Hirigoyen, American Pistachio Growers VP of Global Marketing.
This meeting in Washington followed a meeting Richard Matoian participated in with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, hosted by Congressman Valadao on August 14. In this meeting, Richard expressed the urgent needs of the pistachio industry for support during the trade dispute.
Our delegation emphasized the urgent need for immediate funding support, particularly in international trade. An important recent UC Davis study shows pistachios are potentially the most harmed specialty crop, with the highest percentage of U.S. production going to China/Hong Kong. The study further projects a potential price decline as a result of tariffs of nearly 36 percent in all markets. This affects not only the California pistachio industry but our Arizona and New Mexico partners, as well.
APG is advocating on behalf of our growers and all those who depend on the pistachio industry’s vibrant economic impact, by lobbying for a fair—and significant—portion of the allocated money from these programs:
- The $200 million Agriculture Trade Promotion (ATP) program will allow all USDA cooperators to apply for these funds, regardless of how deeply affected they are by tariffs. The allocation per crop for this program has not yet been determined by the USDA. American Pistachio Growers made a strong presentation on behalf of our industry for funds in order to anchor significant markets and quickly capture new ones.
- The Food Purchase and Distribution Program has announced support in the form of pistachio purchases up to $85 million for federal nutrition programs. This program is domestic only and purchases are largely for distribution in food banks and the school nutrition programs.
- The direct payment program does not apply to specialty crops and therefore, does not apply to pistachios. This program provides direct payments to producers of soybeans, hogs, cotton, and so forth.
USDA was very pleased with APG’s successful generic marketing activities benefitting the entire industry, propelling a dramatic increase in consumption and U.S. share of the market in each of our prioritized international markets. We could not conduct this important work without the support and active participation of our members. We thank you and our delegation that took time away from harvest to lobby on behalf of our growers.
Richard Matoian, Executive Director
Judy Hirigoyen, Vice President, Global Marketing