Federal Government to investigate Turkish cherry imports

Jun 7, 2019

A tart cherry orchard in Michigan.
Credit Peter Payette / Interlochen Public Radio

The U.S. International Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce announced Friday that they will investigate cherries imported from Turkey.

Tart cherries are the largest crop in northwestern lower Michigan, and growers here say they can't compete with Turkey. Some Turkish tart cherry products sell for half the price of domestic ones.

Ben LaCross, a grower in Leelanau County, says to break even he needs to make around 25 cents per pound for his tart cherries.

"Since Turkey has really started to dominate our market, we’ve been receiving somewhere between 11 and 15 cents per pound," LaCross says.

LaCross says Turkey subsidizes their cherry farms so much that they can sell their products at a price below the cost or production. If the ITC and the Department of Commerce find that is true, they can levy a tariff on Turkish cherries to offset the price difference.

Michigan growers have been asking for federal help on Turkish imports for years. Last year, the Trump administration placed a small tariff on tart cherry juice concentrate from Turkey. In February, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters introduced a bill that would make the commerce department go after unfair practices in the cherry trade.