Turkey flooding U.S. market with cheap tart cherries, prompting Utah farmers to take action
Turkish producers are intentionally dumping cheap fruit on the U.S. market and crippling the multimillion-dollar industry, which has prompted Utah farmers to declare a tart cherry war, Utah-based Salt Lake Tribune newspaper wrote.
The Utah-based Payson Fruit Growers cooperative and four dried-cherry processors from Michigan have rolled up their sleeves and filed a countervailing and anti-dumping petition with the U.S. Department of Commerce and International Trade Commission, it said.
The petition maintains that Turkey is unfairly flooding the U.S. market with inexpensive dried tart cherries, a move that is sinking the price of domestic fruit.
In response, farmers have asked trade officials to increase the tariff on Turkey’s imported products by nearly 630 percent and are waiting on an initial determination is expected to take about 45 days.
Turkey imports its dried tart cherries for 89 cents a pound while the wholesale prices for dried tart cherries in the U.S. are $4.50 to $5 a pound, the newspaper said, noting that even at that low price, tart cherry growers in Turkey are able to make a profit as Turkish producers receive subsidies from the European Union for processing and the Turkish government for fuel, fertilizers and other costs.
“It’s not that our farmers are afraid to compete with foreign markets,” Matt Hargreaves, vice president of communications for the Utah Farm Bureau, told the newspaper, “but we need to make it a level playing field, and it hasn’t been that way.”
U.S. producers have been forced to store at least two seasons of harvest, and some farmers in Michigan have begun ripping out cherry trees, it said, as dried cherries imported from Turkey continues to grow.
The imports have doubled over the past three years, from nearly 414,000 pounds in 2016 to 826,000 pounds in 2017. In 2018, imports nearly doubled again with 1.5 million pounds of dried cherry products brought into the United States, the article highlighted.
Utah follows Michigan as capital for tart cherries, averaging of about 30 million pounds of tart, or sour, cherries a year, and the threats to Utah’s tart cherry crop arrive as many farmers are trying to ward off urban sprawl, the article underlined.