Dancing by tariffs, Chinese pounding U.S. garlic growers

Gilroy’s fresh garlic industry faces a continuing threat from
cheap Chinese garlic flooding the United States market. It’s a
situation that’s been tolerated for years, but should be tolerated
no longer.
Last year marked an important and depressing new low in the
garlic trade war: California growers produced less garlic than the
U.S. imported from China.
Gilroy’s fresh garlic industry faces a continuing threat from cheap Chinese garlic flooding the United States market. It’s a situation that’s been tolerated for years, but should be tolerated no longer.

Last year marked an important and depressing new low in the garlic trade war: California growers produced less garlic than the U.S. imported from China.

It’s a wake-up call that South Valley residents and their state and federal representatives cannot ignore, if they want to keep any semblance of sanity to Gilroy’s claim to be the garlic capital of the world.

With questions about the quality of Chinese garlic and about the tactics that shippers and importers use to get around tariffs, it’s time to take a get-tough approach to protecting garlic, and with it, all U.S. farmers.

A bill, HR-1039, that would close tariff loopholes has passed the Senate but is stuck in the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Bill Thomas, R-Bakersfield, who conveniently won’t return phone calls. Maybe the Gilroy Rotary Club members could take it upon themselves to give Thomas a holler?

That a Californian from the Central Valley is helping to block this important legislation is shocking and disappointing.

As long as Chinese garlic growers and importers can flout the tariffs with impunity, they will. The long-term solution is to close the loopholes and pass legislation with real financial damages to growers and importers who ignore the laws.

We’re all for free and fair trade on a level playing field. This field, given the difference in costs for U.S. and Chinese growers, is hardly level.

South Valley residents can write their state and federal representatives to urge passage of HR-1039 by the House Ways and Means Committee and by the full House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, we can do a small part by following the “think globally, act locally” mantra of environmentalists. While thinking globally about protecting U.S.º-grown garlic from cheap Chinese imports, locals can act locally by asking their grocers to stock only U.S.-grown garlic, asking them to label the country of origin on all produce, including garlic, and by buying as much produce as possible from local farm stands and farmers markets.

If we don’t work together and act quickly, Gilroy’s long association with the stinking rose could soon just be a fragrant memory.

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