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Ohio Farmers Worried After China Retaliates With Tariffs Of Its Own

Brian Johnson and Dane Brian
Ohio hog farmers produced more than $600 million worth of pork products in 2015, according to the National Pork Board.

Ohio farmers are pushing back against the Trump administration after China made good on promises to respond to recent U.S. tariffs with tariffs of its own.

China raised import duties on a $3 billion list of U.S. pork, fruit and other products Monday in an escalating tariff dispute with President Donald Trump that companies worry might depress global commerce.

The Chinese Finance Ministry said it was responding to a U.S. tariff hike on steel and aluminum that took effect March 23.

The 25 percent pork tariff is especially bad news for Ohio, which produced more than $600 million worth of pork products in 2015, according to the National Pork Board.

The state also stands to suffer from 15 percent tariffs on several other agricultural products, including apples and wine.

“This isn’t just a problem for farmers, it’s a problem for the entire Ohio economy,” says Ohio Farm Bureau spokesman Joe Cornely. “We have a lot of job, one in eight jobs in the state of Ohio, is related to agriculture.”

The new Chinese tariffs do not apply to corn or soybeans, which are by far the state’s largest commodity crops. But Cornely says that’s something Ohio farmers are keeping a close eye on.

“If these trade issues aren’t resolved, that well could be brought into the mix,” Cornely says.

The latest Chinese move targets farm areas, many of which voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

U.S. farmers sent nearly $20 billion of goods to China in 2017. The American pork industry sent $1.1 billion in products, making China the No. 3 market for U.S. pork.

Beijing reported a trade surplus of $275.8 billion with the United States last year, or two-thirds of its global total. Washington reports different figures that put the gap at a record $375.2 billion.

This story contains information from The Associated Press