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Gilroy Garlic Producers Cheer China Tariffs

GILROY (KPIX) -- The U.S.-China trade war is hurting some American farmers but benefiting others.

In Gilroy, garlic growers are applauding the new tariffs on Chinese products, saying they will help level the playing field with growers who they accuse of "dumping" garlic in the U.S. market at prices that are cheaper than the cost of production.

"My dream scenario with this 25 percent tariff, it's going to be so much that the Chinese might start turning away the containers from the U.S. and go to other third-party countries or go back to China," said Ken Christopher of Christopher Ranch in Gilroy.

The new tariffs will tack on an additional 25 percent charge on Chinese garlic, which could bring prices more in line with U.S. growers who have higher labor costs.

Demand for California garlic could spike as the increased tariffs on Chinese garlic take effect. Christopher said production lines at his packing plant could soon be shifted into high gear for an expected surge in business.

"Having China be more competitive and actually play by the fair rules of the market, means the world to me and my family," Christopher said.

Christopher Ranch is the largest employer in Gilroy with a stable workforce of 1,000 workers who earn a minimum of $15 an hour with benefits.

And there's a ripple effect on the local economy including farm workers, truckers and retailers.

"It's extremely important, especially my job here. We rely on the garlic to bring customers in -- that's what draws them in the first place," said Joanne Fierro who works at the Garlic Shoppe off Highway 101 in Gilroy.

One customer from Oregon said he doesn't mind if local garlic costs a little more.

"It's their livelihood," said Joel Berukoff.

Ken Christopher says he's hoping to increase production and send California product to more places in the South and Midwest, where Chinese garlic has a greater foothold.

"If demand for California garlic goes up, we can continue to invest in our workforce, infrastructure and our manufacturing," Christopher said.

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