China trade war could devastate South Georgia pecan farmers

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By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
May 20, 2019

OCILLA, Ga. (WCTV) -- As the trade war continues between the United States and China, high tariffs on goods loom over farmers' futures.

In South Georgia, pecan farmers are among the hardest hit by high taxes, with some saying the tariff could be devastating.

Pecan farmers across the southeast continue to be hit with hardships. Between Hurricane Michael and high tariffs implemented last year, many farmers said the losses they experienced were unlike anything the industry has ever seen.

Hudson Pecan Company in Ocilla, like many other pecan farmers in South Georgia, said China is their biggest export. Randy Hudson, CEO of Hudson Pecan Company, said they're now facing a 47 percent tax on pecans sold to China, a rate that could put an end to the state's biggest pecan customer.

Hudson said some years, China is responsible for buying nearly 90 percent of Georgia's pecans. Without it, the state is facing a massive oversupply of pecans - up to 100 million pounds - low prices and nowhere for farmers to sell.

In rural communities across South Georgia and North Florida, farmers said they're not the only ones losing in the trade war.

"This impact of loss of income in 'farm-gate' is affecting communities, school systems, because there's just not that tax base that would normally be generated through the sale of agriculture commodities that drives local communities," Hudson said.

Hudson said pecans have been a strong industry over the years, and now it has been put on pause, with many farmers wondering what to do next.

"Had there not been this tariff, the pecan industry would have continued to grow, there would have been really nice profits being made, but where we stand today now is quite the contrary," Hudson said.

Farmers said with the taxes, it's more important than ever to buy and support local farmers.

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