MADISON – After the U.S. officially launched $34 billion in new tariffs last Friday, China announced it would hit back with more duties of its own.
Although the country has yet to announce which U.S. goods will be targeted, Wisconsin ginseng farmers are already reeling from a 15 percent tariff levied by China three months ago.
“Tariffs don’t do anybody any good,” said Craig Baumann, whose family runs a 500-acre ginseng farm in Wausau. “We had one brand new customer lined up and (a) signed contract and everything, and they walked away from it the day that 15 percent tariff went on.”
Wisconsin is the country’s leading exporter of ginseng, and farmers in Marathon County, where production of the crop dominates, are worried about how the tariffs will affect business in the coming year. Farmers are finding that they are having to discount their crop to keep customers.
Baumann said the discount will cost farmers the revenue needed to purchase new equipment and hopes a resolution is made before the new market for ginseng begins in September.
For now, Baumann said he’ll continue to travel to China to communicate directly with his customers.
“It’s frustrating,” Baumann said, adding that before the tariffs, business was good and stable. He said ginseng was a commodity bringing a lot of money back into the U.S.