Turkey’s Trade Trickery Torments Tart Growers

The Great Cherry Escape by Ken Scott PhotographyThe Record-Eagle reports on some international trade trickery that is having a significant impact right here in Leelanau County:

“Turkey is buying frozen cherries at $1.10 per pound, taking four pounds of frozen cherries, drying them into one pound of dried cherries, and selling them into the U.S. market at 89 cents per pound. To us, that’s textbook dumping,” said Leelanau cherry grower Ben LaCross.

Shoreline Fruit’s Don Gregory agrees: “So you’ve got $4 to $5 dollars worth of cherries, plus the cost of drying the cherries, plus the cost of shipping those cherries, and they’re being declared in this country at less than a dollar a pound. They’re putting no value on the cherries at all.”

The petitions were filed by a group composed of four local cherry processors — Shoreline Fruit LLC, Graceland Fruit Inc., Cherry Central Cooperative and Smeltzer Orchard Co. — and the Payson (Utah) Fruit Growers Co-op. The petition identifies the group as the Dried Tart Cherry Trade Committee.

“The dried cherry market was created right here in Traverse City,” said Gregory. “Graceland Fruit was the pioneer that started it. Some other dryers have gotten involved. The majority of the dried cherry market still comes out of Michigan. There is one dryer in Utah, and there is one in the state of Washington. But the majority of them are right here. It’s been a market that’s been developed and owned by the tart cherry growers here in Michigan and those two other states.”

An International Trade Commission vote on the anti-dumping petition is scheduled for June 6. A final determination is scheduled for Jan. 27, 2020.

“In the last 10 years, the amount of imported cherry products coming into this country has skyrocketed,” Gregory said. “After the loss of a crop in 2012, the doors were opened up and we saw a significant amount of product start to come in.”

A warm March in 2012, followed by a freeze in April, crushed the Michigan tart cherry crop from 157 million pounds in 2011 to less than 12 million pounds in 2012.

Read on for much more in the TC Record-Eagle including news that U.S. Sen. Gary Peters is wading into the fray.

The photo is The Great Cherry Escape by Ken Scott Photography. See more in his big old Cherries album on Flickr and definitely follow Ken Scott Photography on Facebook!