Farmers in Wisconsin have been growing ginseng for more than 100 years, and the state grows 95 percent of all ginseng in the U.S.
The little-known industry is feeling the heat of trade tariffs and counter measures from China on agricultural goods.
According to the Associated Press, close to 200 growers will be impacted by a 15 percent tariff on imports into China. As of this time, it’s not known if the tariffs will be passed to farmers, distributors or consumers. That answer could come as soon as this fall.
“I think it’s more of a ploy by the government to get people talking about stuff which it seems to be working,” said ginseng grower Joe Courchain.
One of the biggest competitors to the U.S. ginseng industry is Canada, and they produce three times as much of the root as the U.S. Wisconsin ginseng is believed to be a higher quality than product from Canada, which is why it commands a higher price.
More than 1 million pounds of the root is produced by Wisconsin farmers alone, and a majority of it is shipped to China for use in candy and teas, according to the Wisconsin Ginseng Board.