East Tennessee farmers concerned about Chinese tariffs

Local News

Farmers across the country are worried after China slapped a tariff on more than 100 U.S. products in retaliation for President Trump’s new imposed tariffs. Those include wine, pork and steel pipes. Some of the tariffs were raised by 25 percent. These import duties add up to $3 billion and China is also hinting at a possible tariff on other products, like soybeans.

John Keller and his family run Kelmont Farms Incorporated in Maryville. It’s been in the family for more than 100 years. They grow corn and soybeans on their land. 

Chinese tariffs were not raised on either of their products, but Keller is worried they will be included in the future. Right now, though, he is not too concerned.

“Markets were down a little bit yesterday, but I just checked the last few minutes and they were back up actually more than we lost yesterday,” he said.

He also does not export his crop but instead ships them to other states. He believes this will impact the Midwest or deep South more than Tennessee.

Andrew Muhammad at UT’s Institute of Agriculture looked at the initial list of tariffs and believes this will have little affect on Tennessee agriculture.

“The issue is more so the tariffs to come and this may just be the initial sort of phase,” said Muhammad.

He said farmers could feel trickle down effects even if they do not export their goods over seas.

“If soybean exports to china limited in some way due to a tariff that could in effect lead more soybeans in a domestic market and then as a consequence depress prices overall which would then have an indirect effect on soybeans in Tennessee,” he said.

Muhammad said consumers may not see any impact except from the fall out of an overall trade war having an effect on the economy.

Rocky Top Wine Trail in Pigeon Forge said they have not felt any impacts since the imposed tariffs. The vice president of operations said most of the wineries they work with get a majority of their grapes from Tennessee. They also do not export their wines to China.

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