Michigan tart cherry producers and lawmakers are celebrating a small victory.
The International Trade Commission (ITC) will now begin tracking foreign imports of tart cherries to accurately measure the impact of trade on Michigan’s growers.
“From what we are seeing around the country, we know that Turkish imports are having a significant, negative impact on tart cherry growers, so particularly Michigan,” said Sen. Gary Peters. “The evidence is there, we just now need the data to back it up.”
In January, the ITC decided that tart cherry imports from Turkey were not harming the U.S. industry. As a result, it would not add countervailing duties to imported tart cherries from Turkey. Both Peters and Sen. Debbie Stabenow wrote a joint letter to the ITC in March, urging them to collect their own data.
“They basically made it on data coming from Turkey and did not rely on the information from the United States government, which in my mind is ridiculous,” said Peters. “We have to make decisions based on objective data that was collected by the U.S. government.”
Last month, the ITC responded to the letter. It announced it will start collecting data, beginning July 1.
“I’m reasonably confident the data is going to prove what we’ve been saying all along—that the Turks have been dumping cherries in the market to the detriment of Michigan cherry growers and processors,” said Peters.
Peters has heard that Michigan’s tart cherry producers are pleased this data is now being collected, but it will take time to establish some results.
“Every week or month that goes by continues to hurt our growers and producers, so we hope to get this expedited as quickly as possible,” he said. “But I know time is not on our side. If you’re suffering financial impacts and that has been magnified as a result of the COVID crisis, we need to get a resolution to this as quickly as possible.”
As long as the playing field is fair, Peters is confident that Michigan tart cherry producers can out-compete with anyone in the world.
“We cannot lose this industry in Michigan,” he said. “This is an important industry—it’s important to who we are as Michiganders, and I’m going to do everything I possibly can to make sure that our cherry growers have a fair, level playing field to compete.”