Jun 28, 2019
USDA to purchase additional $15M in tart cherries

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will buy an additional $15 million of U.S. tart cherries. In March, Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Michigan, helped secure $15 million for the first tart cherry buy through USDA. This new purchase will provide urgent support to area tart cherry growers and promote domestic consumption of the product, Bergman said.

USDA will purchase $15 million of U.S. tart cherries, now totaling $30 million, which will be distributed to domestic food assistance programs such as the National School Lunch Program.

“This is great news for our First District cherry growers,” Bergman said June 24 in announcing the purchase. “The tart cherry industry has gone above and beyond to fight adverse circumstances facing their market, including the unfair dumping of cheap imports from Turkey and other foreign countries. The Trump Administration’s support is imperative as we work to solve the complex issues burdening the wellbeing of our area growers and producers,”said Bergman.

Bergman said he worked with USDA Marketing and Regulatory Programs Under Secretary Greg Ibach to explore solutions for the U.S. tart cherry industry.  Turkey and other foreign countries have flooded U.S. markets by dumping cheap imports, which have severely strained domestic cherry prices.

Bergman and Michigan Reps. Fred Upton, John Moolenaar and Bill Huizenga signed a letter May 30, 2019, to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in support of the cherry industry.

News of the USDA purchase comes just weeks after the International Trade Commission said it would continue investigations into Turkish dumping practices. Currently, five U.S. processors have filed a trade action lawsuit against Turkey through the ITC and Department of Commerce. They allege Turkey is flooding the U.S. market with dried tart cherries, which is lowering product prices domestically.

A ruling in favor of its industry could result in up to a 628.9% tariff on Turkey’s dried cherry product.

On May 30, 2019, Congressman Bergman led a letter with Congressmen Upton, Moolenaar, and Huizenga, requesting USDA buy surplus product from the tart cherry industry.

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