Original Story from OPB Radio

Currently, China has a 25 percent tariff placed on hazelnuts grown in the United States. In response to tariffs on steel and aluminum proposed by the Trump administration, the Chinese government has now proposed adding an extra 15 percent tariff on United States-grown hazelnuts. Nearly all hazelnuts grown in the United States are farmed in Oregon.

“We were a little surprised,” said Terry Ross, executive director of the Hazelnut Growers Bargaining Association. “Maybe it’s because we’re such a small industry — compared to almonds and walnuts and pistachios.”

Ross is concerned about the tariff, but he also sees it as an opportunity. In a recent interview on KATU, he mentioned his hope that the new tariffs would create a dialogue between the Oregon hazelnut industry and the Chinese government.

Shortly after the interview aired, Ross was contacted by the Chinese Consulate. “We flew down to San Francisco that morning, had about a 2 hour meeting, and then flew back that afternoon,” Ross said. “By the time we got back they’d already sent us an email saying that they had sent our request on to Beijing.”

Since Ross visited the Chinese Consulate, no deals have been made. But now that communication is open between China and Oregon industry leaders, Ross is hopeful that the market for Oregon hazelnuts in China will grow.

To listen to the full conversation with Terry Ross, click on the play button at the top of the page.