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How will the U.S.-Japan trade deal impact Wisconsin cranberry growers?

Central Wisconsin (WAOW) — The United States and Japan recently struck a trade deal where Japan has agreed to end import taxes on some of Wisconsin’s major agricultural products.

Products like sweet corn, cheese and cranberries are a few on the list.

Tom Lochner, the Executive Director for the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association, said this trade deal is a major step in the right direction for continuing the growth of one of Wisconsin’s largest businesses.

“Wisconsin cranberry growing is a billion dollar a year business,” Lochner said. “We export between 30-40% of the crop out of Wisconsin, so international markets are very important to us.”

An area cranberry company owner said the new deal with Japan is great news for farmers.

“Anytime we can find another market to sale our commodity, cranberries, we’re all for it,” said Dr. Frederick Prehn, the Owner of Prehn Cranberry Company. “So it’s encouraging news for us.”

He said $2,000,000 to $3,000,000 is the amount generated from foreign sales, with Asia serving as a target market. However, he said the ongoing trade war with China is still affecting sales.

“The trade war couldn’t have come at a worse time to be honest with you,”  Lochner said. “The sales drop has been about $52,000,000 according to USDA.”

Lochner said overall, the cranberry business has been down a bit over the last five years, so eliminating any trade barriers is a positive for growers, as it gives them a stronger chance to stay in business if they’re struggling.

Rashad Williams

News 9 Reporter

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