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Thread: Wisconsin Ginseng Growers Loss is Ontario's Gain

  1. #1
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    Wisconsin Ginseng Growers Loss is Ontario's Gain

    Regarding trade negotiations with China, President Trump tweeted "I am in no hurry, but things look good."

    Maybe not so good in Marathon County, WI, where 170 ginseng growers have seen Chinese tariffs go from 8% in 2016 to 38% in 2019, followed by the coup de grace: on August 8, China's Ministry of Agriculture announced that it would suspend all US agricultural purchases in retaliation for President Trump's threat of a new 10% tariff on all Chinese imports. 85% of the ginseng harvested in Marathon County is exported to China.

    Every fall, in previous years, Asian ginseng buyers flew in to Central Wisconsin to make purchase agreements for the coming year. But this year, it would seem, the Chinese buyers will be flying to Ontario, Canada instead, where there are about 140 growers. Since the 1980s Ontario farmers have been increasing ginseng cultivation on lands formerly planted with tobacco. The Government of Canada has supported ginseng growers with research into new production and harvesting methods along with marketing research assistance for the growers' association.

    In contrast, the USDA has promised ginseng growers "a relief strategy in line with the estimated impacts of unjustified retaliatory tariffs" … the Market Facilitation Payments (MFP) for ginseng will be based on harvested acres in 2019. While details have been sparse, the USDA press release states that relief payments "will be made". So it looks like for 2019, ginseng growers in Marathon County need to harvest as much as they can, dump it, then apply for relief payments. The cycle from planting ginseng to harvesting is 4 to 5 years. I would expect that a Wisconsin grower would question, before deciding to plant ginseng, will there still be MFP relief payments in 2023-2024?

    Of course MFP relief is envisioned on a vastly greater scale for producers of other agricultural exports, such as soybeans, cotton, rice, etc.

    Incidentally, Marathon County WI in 2016 voted 47.9% for Trump versus 46.9% for Clinton.

  2. #2
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    Ginseng is grown in my neck of the woods and is expanding. One grower advised me that some ginseng can now be harvested in 3 years rather than the 5 which has had an impact in marketing.
    The downside to ginseng growing is that the soil is fumigated with chemicals that destroy any natural life. Once ginseng has been harvested, it cannot be used for ginseng again and the natural microflora take years to return. Rural real estate is advertised as 'free from ginseng' farming due to the changes done.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

  3. #3
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by razz View Post
    Ginseng is grown in my neck of the woods and is expanding. One grower advised me that some ginseng can now be harvested in 3 years rather than the 5 which has had an impact in marketing.
    The downside to ginseng growing is that the soil is fumigated with chemicals that destroy any natural life. Once ginseng has been harvested, it cannot be used for ginseng again and the natural microflora take years to return. Rural real estate is advertised as 'free from ginseng' farming due to the changes done.
    Wow, that is interesting

  4. #4
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    I really feel for my home state.

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    Protectionism seldom works out well for the trade warriors, although in the present situation there seems like plenty of blame to go around.

    I wasn’t aware that ginseng took such an environmental toll. I somehow had the impression it was gathered by gentle hippies in sandals, not guys in hazmat gear.

  6. #6
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LDAHL View Post
    Protectionism seldom works out well for the trade warriors, although in the present situation there seems like plenty of blame to go around.

    I wasn’t aware that ginseng took such an environmental toll. I somehow had the impression it was gathered by gentle hippies in sandals, not guys in hazmat gear.
    What I have seen is:

    - offshore labour setting up the posts to support the shades on prepared fields,
    - large teams from out of town of Vietnamese (I believe) women mostly on their hands and knees working on the plants when needed for the first years with the offshore labout rolling back the shades each fall and,
    - then the shade coverings and support structures are removed and the plants are dug up by machine and taken away to be sorted and graded and whatever else before being sold. Not sure if that is the routine everywhere though.

    Usually ginseng is one crop of a number of enterprises.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

  7. #7
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    Hope all farmers remember when it comes time to vote.

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