As one Central Valley farmer told me, “Trump's trade war could spell doom for the Central Valley."
I’m deeply concerned about the Trump Administration’s move to impose a series of international steel and aluminum tariffs. This risks setting off a trade war where Central Valley ag could lose big. In fact, China has already retaliated by announcing new tariffs on 128 items, including almonds, walnuts, fresh and dried fruit, and wine. Thanks to this trade war, farm products will soon be up to 15 percent more expensive, curbing demand for our goods.
The Central Valley is the breadbasket of the world. About 70 percent of our almonds are exported overseas, primarily to Europe and Asia. Last year China alone bought $2.7 billion worth of American wine, primarily from California. Given that agriculture is our most important economic driver in the Valley, tens of thousands of jobs here are dependent on keeping good relationships with our global trade partners.
If China and other countries are subsidizing their domestic steel production in violation of World Trade Organization rules, the best way to combat dumping is by building a broad coalition of allies, not by unilaterally imposing tariffs before there’s international support. Even worse, our Representative in Congress, Jeff Denham, has yet again remained silent despite his position as a key representative of the Central Valley.
As a business teacher at Modesto Junior College, I know the Central Valley has real economic issues we should be addressing—we have an unemployment rate twice the national average and more than 80 percent of kids in our school districts are on free or reduced lunch.
I have a plan to start solving these issues: Instead of giving large corporate giveaways to big corporations, we should be investing in education and infrastructure. I’ve seen several high schools with wonderful and effective apprenticeship programs that take kids at risk of dropping out and teach them real skills, like building solar panels and driving forklifts. Those students have job offers the day after graduation, jobs that offer real career opportunities and a future. These are the sorts of programs we should be encouraging instead of belligerent trade wars.
— Josh Harder is the front runner challenger for Congressional District 10 against Rep. Jeff Denham. He is a 5th generation Turlock resident, a business teacher at Modesto Junior College and he has spent the past 10 years building businesses.