Washington’s two U.S. senators and Reps. Dan Newhouse and Dave Reichert are seeking $86 million in damages from trade wars for the Pacific Northwest sweet cherry industry.
Newhouse and Reichert, both Republicans, and Democratic Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray sent a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, Aug. 24.
“While the priority for our growers remains an end to the trade disputes, our cherry growers are estimating they will experience up to $86 million in damages from trade wars during the 2018 season and they deserve the same assistance afforded to producers of other agricultural commodities negatively impacted by retaliatory tariffs,” the members wrote.
Mark Powers, president of the Northwest Horticultural Council in Yakima, said the $86 million includes lost sales and estimates of reduced grower returns by tree fruit companies and the council’s Foreign Trade Committee. He said it’s unknown how any relief would be distributed.
Traditionally, 85 percent of the Northwest sweet cherry crop comes from Washington.
Perdue mentioned relief while touring the Northwest in early July and on July 24 announced USDA would use the Commodity Credit Corporation for relief that would come in three forms: payments to producers, purchase of surplus commodities and a trade promotion program to help develop new markets.
About 2,500 producers grow sweet cherries in the Northwest, more than in any other region of the country and the season is very short, being June, July and August, the members wrote. Cherries are highly perishable and cannot be stored so they are sold right away, they noted.