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Chinese tariffs hurt two major Wisconsin industriesSubmitted: 04/18/2018
Rose McBride
Rose McBride
Reporter/Anchor
rmcbride@wjfw.com

Chinese tariffs hurt two major Wisconsin industries
MARATHON COUNTY - Two important Wisconsin products won't benefit from a possible trade war. It will likely hurt them. Last month President Trump placed tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum imports. China came back and slapped tariffs on more than 100 U.S. products. The motives are political. But the effects trickle down to hurt local economies. 

When it comes to growing ginseng, nobody does it quite like Marathon County. 

"Wisconsin ginseng is sort of the cream of the crop when it comes to American ginseng," said Hsu's Ginseng Enterprises Director of Operations Mike Klemp-North.


Ninety percent of the U.S.'s ginseng crop is grown in Wisconsin. Ninety-five percent of that crop is grown in Marathon County.

But with new Chinese tariffs placed on ginseng, the future of the industry could look a little different.

"We're already selling the Cadillac version of American ginseng, and to add 15 percent is going to increase the price even more," said Klemp-North. 

China placed tariffs on many products, from scrap metal to pork.

Cranberries also got hit with the tariffs. 

Tom Lochner, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Cranberry Growers Association, said the state grows half of the world's cranberries. The market just began expanding to China, but high tariffs could stop that growth. 

"Opening up markets to cranberries is important to us, it's important to our growers and it helps improve returns as we increase demands for the product," said Lochner. 

That demand benefits growers, but also the thousands of people employed in the industry here in Wisconsin.
"If we're prospering or economically sustainable, it's going to benefit all the citizens of the state," said Lochner. 

But they ultimately have no say. Wisconsinites are caught in the middle of a political fight that doesn't show signs of ending soon.

"It's like the Titanic, we're stuck we're going to keep going this way. We're not going to be able to change much," said Klemp-North.

China placed these tariffs as retaliation to President Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs. The tariffs hit Wisconsin hard because it's a state that Trump narrowly won in the 2016 election.


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