The American Sheep Industry Association is asking the Trump Administration to consider the market impacts to the nation’s wool and sheepskin producers as they develop a relief strategy for agricultural producers hit hardest by the trade war with China.
“We ask for your consideration of sheep producers when developing a trade assistance package following the latest round of trade retaliation,” ASI President Benny Cox wrote to United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in mid-May. “American wool and sheepskin producers have experienced significant losses as a result of the retaliatory tariffs imposed on our exports to China. Increasing the tariff from 10 percent to 25 percent will likely lead to the elimination of key export markets entirely and further losses in the wool and sheepskin markets.”
Prior to trade disruptions and tariffs imposed by both sides, 72 percent of American wool exports and 80 percent of sheepskins went to China. A 10 percent tariff was imposed by China on all American wool and sheepskins in September 2018 and that tariff is expected to climb to 25 percent just as much of the American wool clip is being marketed to overseas buyers in 2019.
American wool exports to China have dropped off 85 percent in value and 84 percent in volume in the six-month period since the 10 percent tariff was enacted. Sheepskin prices have dropped so dramatically in the past year that they are actually detracting from the value of slaughter lambs.
President Donald J. Trump has authorized USDA to provide up to $16 billion in support for American agricultural producers affected by the ongoing trade issues.
“These programs will assist agricultural producers while President Trump works to address long-standing market access barriers,” read a statement from USDA.