THE DALLES, Ore. -- Orchard View Cherries, just south of The Dalles, is one of the biggest cherry growers and packers in the area.
It farms 3,200 acres and employs more than 1,000 people during the harvest.
Company president Brenda Thomas said a recently installed, $10 million optical sorting machine, helps pick out the very best cherries. Those cherries typically go to Chinese customers.
“So, cherries that you would see at Safeway, versus what China gets to see, you would go 'Wow, why don’t I ever get to see those cherries?” she said.
It’s because we do not pay $60 a box like Chinese consumers do.
The new tariff would add another $9 to that.
Orchard View sold 3 to $4 million worth of cherries to Chinese consumers last year, according to Thomas.
She’s worried a price hike will mean fewer buyers, she calls them homes.
“Well there’s no more homes. And in China, they are consumers just like we are—when the price goes up you’re gonna buy less. So the consumer has to absorb that increase in price. And that’s where we start to get concerned. You have to figure out a new home for those cherries,” she said.
And if you can't find new buyers it could create a downward price spiral in the U.S.
“China is definitely an important market for us,” said Ian Chandler, who runs all the field operations at Orchard View.
He said what seemed like a far way argument is now very local.
“You know, we're a small town here and people don’t really think much about politics other than local politics. And you hear about steel imports and it doesn’t really hit home until it hits industries that really support our communities,” he said.
Republicans typically are considered friends to farmers, who generally share their more conservative views.
But Brenda Thomas was not a Trump fan before this trade war, and wishes the politicians in Washington D.C. would stay out of her industry.
“If you ask anybody about producing cherries, it’s a risky business. We just don’t need another Trump-ism on top of it,” she said.