Texas cheese shops and producers worried about possible tariffs on E.U. goods

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AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Some of your favorite European cheeses could become more expensive in a few months. Proposed tariffs in response to a fight between Boeing and Airbus could go into effect this fall, affecting a long list of items from the European Union. 

“It’s a big unknown right now,” John Antonelli, co-founder and owner of Antonelli’s Cheese Shop in Austin. 

Artisanal cheese is a popular specialty food. According to the Specialty Food Association, cheese was among the top five categories of retail sales last year. 

“The artisanal cheese movement is bustling here in Texas,” Antonelli said. “We’ve got about 25 producers that are really making some of the best products in the country.” 

But Antonelli, whose shop sells both domestic and imported cheese from countries like France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland, worries the possible tariffs could put his business at risk. The prices could double and it’s hard to determine who’d absorb the cost.  

L’Amuse Gouda from Holland at Antonelli’s Cheese Shop. (Steffi Lee/Nexstar Broadcasting)

The shop is currently working on holiday pre-orders.  

“The cheeses, which can take a month or two months to get here in the states, may not have tariffs imposed today, but may have tariffs imposed before they arrive,” Antonelli said. “We’ll be responsible for them. We were the ones who placed the order so we’re having to make some pretty big choices right now to determine if we want to absorb that risk or not.” 

Ben Guyton of Pure Luck Farm and Dairy works with the goats on their farm. (Steffi Lee/Nexstar Broadcasting)

And it’s not only his business that would suffer, he says. Small cheesemakers and dairy farms would be in trouble, too. Pure Luck Farm and Dairy in Dripping Springs is an example. Antonelli’s carries their fresh goat cheese.  

“Even though we’re a local Texas product, we’re part of a global cheese market,” owner Ben Guyton said.

Other places that carry their goat cheese include the Texas Farmers Market, Whole Foods and Central Market.

“We rely on the people that buy and sell our cheeses to order from us every week. If one of our retailers has problems selling cheese or bringing customers into the store, that’s going to affect their orders from us. If that affects their orders from us, suddenly we might be in a surplus of cheese.” 

Pure Luck Farm and Dairy currently sells everything they make. 

“If that changes, that has the potential to really affect us,” Guyton said. 

The public commenting period on the tariff proposals closed this week. You can find a list of the items that would be affected here.

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