USDA to buy $15 million worth of tart cherries

Mar 20, 2019

A tart cherry orchard in Michigan.
Credit Peter Payette

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will buy $15 million of tart cherries from domestic farmers, according to Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet.)

The cherries will be used in federal food assistance programs like the National School Lunch Program.

"This is a big win for our farmers and producers in northern Michigan,” said Congressman Bergman in a press release. "We will use this momentum in our efforts to address the larger unresolved trade issues that continue to place our nation’s tart cherry industry at a disadvantage."

Michigan farmers provide 75 percent of the country's tart cherries, according to the Cherry Marketing Institute. Recently, domestic tart cherry farmers have faced steep foreign competition from Turkey, which imports over 200 million pounds of tart cherry products to the U.S. each year.

Turkish tart cherry products sell for half the price of domestic ones in some cases. Legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate last month that could lead to tariffs on those Turkish imports to balance the price.