Washington, DC - United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA), along with Representatives William Keating (D-MA-09) and Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA-04), sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer urging him to explore new markets for American cranberry growers to compensate for China's 40 percent tariff on imported cranberries. In the past year, the U.S. cranberry industry has experienced an estimated $42.8 million loss due to China's retaliatory tariff.
To increase sales and mitigate price declines due to overproduction over the last decade, the cranberry industry sought out international markets and, by 2018, China became the largest consumer of cranberries, purchasing approximately $55 million of dried cranberries. In a five-year span, the U.S. cranberry industry was able to increase its sales of dried cranberries by more than 1,000 percent. However, the industry's effort to establish international markets is now in jeopardy due to China's tariffs.
"After spending five years successfully cultivating a market for U.S. cranberries in China, U.S. cranberry farmers are now losing their business in China to other countries because of the 40 percent tariff on their product," the lawmakers wrote in their letter to Ambassador Lighthizer. "Cranberry growers already worried about making ends meet are deeply unsettled by the immediate impact of these tariffs, and the long-term ramifications of being shut out of the Chinese market."
"We hope that the USTR can provide support to find other markets for this critical U.S. industry, and work creatively to help relieve the economic pressure faced by producers," the lawmakers continued.
Senators Warren and Markey, and Representatives Keating and Kennedy urged Ambassador Lighthizer to address the loss to the cranberry industry as soon as possible, and requested a response to their letter by December 9, 2019.