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Michigan legislators call for trade commission to impose duties on tart cherries from Turkey

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Michigan lawmakers are calling on the US Trade Commission to impose duties on cherry imports from Turkey.

In a resolution calling for duties to be imposed on tart cherries from Turkey, two state senators said without help, few American cherry growers will survive.

Republican State Senator Wayne Schmidt introduced the measure. He said Michigan produces more tart cherries than anywhere else in the country.

“And now that we’re seeing some of the family farms being put up for sale and people are thinking this isn’t a good way to go,” Schmidt said. “It’s going to hurt us all in the long run.”

According to Schmidt, Turkey has been using subsidies to sell tart cherries in the US market for 89 cents per pound. US cherries have been selling for over four dollars.

He said tart cherry farmers won’t be getting rich if duties are applied.

“It’s just trying to make sure there is a level playing field and that our growers, our cherry producers, are treated fairly and another country can’t undercut us.”

Marc Santucci is a Traverse City tart cherry farmer. He said even with duties it won’t be enough to bring the cherry industry back to what it was. Currently, Santucci said he’s in the process of transitioning away from mechanically picked tart cherries but will keep some of his cherry trees so they can be picked fresh.

Santucci said he’s lucky that his farm is as close to a tourist destination as it is. He said farmers who are a little more off the beaten path likely won’t be so lucky.

Senator Schmidt said the issue is something he’d like to see President Donald Trump weigh in on.

“There’s no question that the President needs to get involved,” Schmidt said. “He’s done it on other issues and I think this would be a good one for President Trump to get involved in.”

The US Trade Commission is expected to rule on the matter early next year.