Michigan

US cherry growers worry about rising imports

Michigan is the nation’s top producer of tart cherries but increasing imports from abroad are worrying the growers. “Michigan grows 75 to 80 percent of the US supply of tart cherries every year,” said Kevin Robson, a horticulture and industry relations specialist for the Michigan Farm Bureau.

According to the Farm Bureau, Michigan crops are worth $54 million. Imports have rapidly increased over the past decade. Ten years ago, the US imported approximately 12,000 tons of cherry juice concentrate annually, said Phil Korson, president of the Cherry Marketing Institute. In 2016, the US imported 100,000 tons of cherry juice concentrate.

“We can’t even come close to competing with imports coming in, especially from Turkey,” said Mike DeRuiter, a farmer from Oceana County. Turkey sells its tart cherry juice concentrate for roughly $3.68 a litre, while US growers are currently at $7.36 a litre. The break-even point for a U.S. grower is about $8.42 a litre, DeRuiter said.

According to http://news.jrn.msu.edu/capitalnewsservice/2018/04/13/cherry-growers-worry-about-rising-imports/, US farmers have incurred increased production costs in recent years due to the introduction of the spotted wing drosophila, an invasive species that destroys fruit trees. “That pest has been a huge challenge for growers because it’s driven up costs,” Korson said. “The profit margins are down because the costs have gone up.”

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