Michigan cherry farmers concerned over tariffs

Published: Feb. 13, 2020 at 3:56 PM EST
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Michigan tart cherry farmers are trying to focus on surviving after a fallout with global tariffs.

Cherry growers and processors met with the Cherry Industry Administration Board to discuss their concerns over tariffs and an upcoming referendum to renew the Michigan Cherry Promotion and Development program.

Michigan cherry processors spent around $2 million last year in an effort to support the Dried Cherries Committee petition from unfair trade. In January, the International Trade Commission said they would not place tariffs on Turkish imports.

Now, the Cherry Industry Administration Board and local farmers are doing everything they can to keep up the fight.

"I think at this point its direct action, it's individuals reaching out whether it's their local state legislatures or to the USDA or the U.S. trade representatives," said Nels Veliquette, Cherries R Us chief financial officer.

While this referendum would preserve the tools they already have to work together and come up with new ideas, they say they would like to see more recognition at the state level.

"What we need to do is get them more informed, we need to get all of the Michigan lawmakers educated, they need to know that this industry matters, and without their help, there is a real risk of our industry going by the wayside," said Karen Bargy, a cherry grower.

"We had three years in a row that have been very nice solid crops well we haven't had a freeze out or weather failure it would actually help our industry, I hate to say it. I lost $150,000 being a cherry farmer last year, how long are you gonna do it, you know? You'll never get that recovery back. Lawmakers, we need help. Bottom line, they have to realize. We need help,' said Tonty Dean, a cherry grower.

The vote for the referendum is scheduled for March 9 and is based on the amount of cherries you produce.

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