May 29, 2020
ITC to track foreign cherry imports at urging of Michigan senators

Democratic U.S. Senators from Michigan Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters announced May 29 the U.S. International Trade Commission will begin tracking foreign imports in order to accurately measure the impact of trade on Michigan’s tart cherry industry.

According to a news release, the decision comes after the senators urged the commission to begin tracking this data.

In January, Senators Stabenow and Peters blasted the commissions decision not to impose tariffs against Turkish tart cherry exporters. Turkey has dumped low-quality dried cherries into U.S. markets, creating a trade imbalance that has harmed Michigan cherry growers. As part of its justification report, the Commission claimed they did not have specific enough data on dried tart cherry imports to include in their investigation. To fix this, Senators Stabenow and Peters urged the Commission to collect additional statistical information to allow for better monitoring of dried cherry imports. The request was approved and will go into effect on July 1.

“Michigan’s world-famous cherry industry has struggled because of Turkey’s unfair trade practices,” Stabenow said. “This decision is a critical step in holding foreign competitors accountable and protecting our growers.”

“Unfair trade practices have completely devastated our cherry growers in Michigan. By previously not collecting all the available information on dried cherry imports, the International Trade Commission (ITC) was deepening the misleading discrepancies and further compromising what should be a fair market,” Peters said. “After pressing for action, I am pleased that the ITC will now be gathering this additional information so that our growers and workers can compete on a level playing field.”

“We know unfair trade practices from foreign competitors have completely destroyed the ability for cherry farmers to do business,” said Nels Veliquette CFO and VP of Cherry Ke Inc. and Cherries R Us Inc. “I appreciate Senators Peters and Stabenow for keeping up the pressure on the ITC. This is data that should have already been collected, and I’m glad that the ITC will be receiving a more complete picture on just how much the trade imbalance has hurt Michigan’s farmers.”

As Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, Stabenow has repeatedly pressed federal trade officials to enforce the rules to hold Turkey accountable. In addition to her work to improve trade policies, she pushed the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make a bonus purchase to provide immediate support for cherry growers affected by unfair foreign competition. She also authored a new provision in the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill to ensure that imports have to meet the same standards as domestic products.

In December, Peters testified, along with Michigan cherry growers, at a Commission hearing in Washington, DC on ensuring a level playing field and holding Turkish tart cherry exporters accountable. Last year, Peters reintroduced the Self-Initiation Trade Enforcement Act with U.S. Senator Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, to establish a task force within the U.S. Department of Commerce to investigate potential trade abuses throughout the international marketplace. The bipartisan measure would also better ensure that the Department has the resources needed to support American businesses looking to expand both here at home and throughout the international marketplace.

Peters previously discussed the issue of cherry dumping directly with President  Donald Trump, who called Peters’ legislation “a fantastic idea.” Peters toured Shoreline Fruit’s facilities in Williamsburg last year and highlighted his legislation.


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