Tart cherries

Tart cherries wait for harvest in August 2019 in an Old Mission Peninsula orchard owned by Raymond “Rocko” Fouch, a fourth generation cherry farmer.

TRAVERSE CITY — The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday announced it will buy $20 million worth of U.S. tart cherries during the third quarter of 2020 for distribution to communities across the country.

The Agricultural Marketing Service will purchase a variety of fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy and seafood products to help support producers and help feed Americans in need, according to a USDA release.

The purchases and distributions are in response to changing market conditions caused by the COVID-19 national emergency.

“As we work towards additional relief for Northern Michigan’s tart cherry growers and processors, this $20 million investment will help stabilize the industry," Rep. Jack Bergman said in a separate release. "I will continue coordinating with the Trump Administration to ensure our tart cherry industry can bounce back from this crisis."

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed in March, provides $9.5 billion for agricultural producers impacted by COVID-19.

In April, Bergman co-signed a letter with Reps. Dan Kildee, Bill Huizenga, John Moolenaar, and Fred Upton to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue requesting coronavirus-related relief for Michigan’s tart cherry industry.

The letter stated, in part: "Relief is needed immediately as the coronavirus pandemic has stripped Michigan cherries of their markets and imposed new challenges on production."

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