Gilroy garlic to benefit from trade war with China

While many farmers have been hard hit by the U.S. trade war with China, there is actually one crop that stands to benefit: garlic. In Gilroy, increased tariffs have Christopher Ranch rejoicing.

Garlic is the crop that defines the town of Gilroy and Christopher Ranch, is their biggest employer.

"Today we're producing about a million pounds of fresh California garlic a week...that's going to be fresh garlic, roasted garlic, peeled garlic, jarred garlic you name it," said Ken Christopher, executive vice president of Christopher Ranch.

And now, they're ramping up to almost double production thanks to the newly increased tariffs against China.

Ken Christopher actually advocated in Washington for garlic to be included.

"Since then we've been waiting for this moment. And now it's a 25-percent tariff on all inbound Chinese garlic. So it's a great day here in the garlic capitol of the world," Christopher said. 

A great day, to follow many difficult ones. In recent years the market has been flooded with inexpensive Chinese garlic, sold below the cost of production.

Chinese garlic would go for about $20 a box, as compared to $60 a box for California grown.

"Back in the early 1990s, there were 12 commercial garlic farmers across the U.S. Well, since the illegal dumping of Chinese garlic, we're down to three," he said.

But for Christopher Ranch, the tariffs signal a chance to level the playing field. At least for awhile. And so they're adding shifts and equipment while they can.

Christopher says, "It means everything. It means we're going to have a chance to expand acreage. we're going to have a chance to get into more markets than before. We're going to increase employment and we're going to invest in infrastructure."

Of course, the tariffs are bad news for many farmers.

Paul Mirassou grows peppers, tomatoes and cherries.

He's also President of the Santa Clara County Farm Bureau. He just hopes the trade war ends well.

"We want fair trade and so we're willing to put up with short term pain, for the long term gain."Mirassou said.

Christopher Ranch also has their sites set on the future.

While the tariffs may be temporary, they're hoping their market gains can be permanent.

"We're not pro Republican, we're not pro Democrat, but we are pro American and pro American farmers," he said.