Michigan farmers 'shocked' that federal government revokes Turkish cherry tariffs

Jan 15, 2020

Cherry farmers across northern Michigan are facing economic uncertainty as trade issues linger.
Credit Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) announced Tuesday that they are revoking tariffs on Turkish dried tart cherry producers.

This announcement is a reversal of a preliminary decision last year in which huge tariffs were levied on cherry importers in Turkey, some as high as 700 percent. Those payments will now stop and the money importers paid will be returned, an industry member says.

"A U.S. industry is not materially injured or threatened with material injury by reason of imports of dried tart cherries from Turkey that the U.S. Department of Commerce has determined are subsidized and sold in the United States at less than fair value," the ITC said in a press release.

Tart cherries are one of northern Michigan's biggest crops, and cherry farmers in northern Michigan have been trying to levy tariffs on foreign competitors for years. According to industry data, some Turkish tart cherry products sell for less than half the price of domestic ones.

"I was shocked (at this announcement)," cherry farmer Nels Veliquette said. "We  finally got the chance to actually compete ... there's no way that that's actually going to continue."

A spokesperson for the ITC said the commission can't comment on the specifics of the investigation into Turkish cherries, adding that it is pending litigation.

The ITC will release a full report, including the rationale for the decision, by Feb. 18.