President Obama’s recent decision to impose a tariff on tires imported from China strikes a serious chord with the domestic garlic industry.
While the garlic business might not be as sweeping as the tire industry, domestic garlic growers, such as Christopher Ranch, are facing similar market degradation, due to Chinese suppliers exporting mass quantities of a competitive product at an unmatchable low price.
In recent years, like the tire market, the garlic industry has taken a serious beating from Chinese garlic – business has declined and acreage is down.
For instance, domestic garlic is available year round (at least Christopher Ranch offers its California heirloom garlic year round), yet Chinese garlic still represents more than 50% of the U.S. market.
Higher domestic prices are not motivated by bigger profits, either. Rather, domestic growers, like Christopher Ranch, are confronted with higher costs to grow quality, safe garlic, including equitable wages to farmers and workers; maintaining an exclusive heirloom seed program; following an extensive food safety program; sustainable farming practices; cost of land and inputs, etc.
In his move to apply the 35% tariff against Chinese tires, Obama invoked a clause – Section 421 – of trade law, which “allows U.S. industries or unions to seek protection from ‘surges’ of Chinese imports, with a lower burden of proof than normal antidumping or countervailing duty cases,” according to an article in The Wall Street Journal.
In a letter to the White House, the Committee to Support U.S. Trade Laws – consisting of the California Fresh Garlic Producers Association; the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association; the U.S. Beekeepers; the Flower Growers of Puget Sound and the American Furniture Manufacturers Committee for Legal Trade – expressed its support of the tariff, according to a separate Wall Street Journal article.
With that being said, it’s important to note that we aren’t calling for protectionism or a trade war. We are opposed to dumping below cost because it misrepresents the fair and realistic cost of producing garlic and destroys the global market.