Spec Cherry Harvest

Tart cherries plunge into a cold tub of water after being harvested.

TRAVERSE CITY — Michigan lawmakers are throwing their support behind U.S. growers’ efforts to stem the tide of unfair pricing of some dried cherry imports.

“The northern Michigan Cherry industry is grateful to Rep. O’Malley, Sen. VanderWall, and the rest of the Michigan Legislature for their thoughtful support of our anti-dumping case against Turkey,” said Ben LaCross, of LaCross Farms and the Leelanau Fruit Company.

The Michigan House of Representatives this week passed a resolution to support the U.S. cherry industry’s request that the federal government charge a tariff on dried cherries from Turkey. Similar resolutions are moving forward after being introduced in the state Senate.

State Rep. Jack O’Malley and other representatives on Wednesday presented a resolution to the state House urging the federal government to take action to stem dumping of cherries grown in Turkey in the U.S market. The full House approved the resolution.

State Sen. Wayne Schmidt and another senator presented a similar resolution in the state Senate. State Sen. Curt VanderWall and another senator offered a concurrent resolution (which links bills between the House and Senate) in support of the cherry industry’s request.

Both Senate resolutions were referred to Committee on Agriculture. A spokesman for Vanderwall’s office on Friday said it was uncertain when the Agriculture Committee would meet to consider the two resolutions.

“Local farmers can’t fight the unfair trade practices of countries like Turkey alone,” said LaCross, “and it’s clear that our state leaders understand the importance of cherries to Michigan. We hope that this resolution will compel the U.S. Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission to rule in favor of U.S.-grown cherries.”

The U.S. ITC in June voted 5-0 to move forward with a petition from the Dried Tart Cherry Trade Committee that alleges imports from Turkey have harmed the U.S. cherry industry.

Unfairly priced imports are hurting the U.S. industry, the petition alleges. Much of that damage is being sustained by growers and processors in northwest Lower Michigan.

Five U.S. processors are named in the cherry industry’s petition as filers: Shoreline Fruit LLC of Traverse City, Graceland Fruit Inc. of Frankfort, Cherry Central Cooperative of Traverse City, Smeltzer Orchard Co. of Frankfort, and Payson Fruit Growers Co-op of Payson, Utah. The petition identifies the group as the Dried Tart Cherry Trade Committee.

A final determination by the ITC is scheduled for Jan. 27, 2020.