USDA buys cherries from Michigan farmers to help communities

Cherries bought by USDA

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Some Michigan farmers say the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s plan to buy tart cherries to feed communities and support farmers will help the industry as cold weather threatens their crops.

The department announced this week that it will buy $20 million worth of U.S. tart cherries, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported. The Agricultural Marketing Service will purchase other fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy and seafood products to distribute to communities amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The purchase is in response to changing market conditions brought on by the pandemic, according to a release.

Cherry Ke CFO Nels Veliquette said the purchase will be good for the industry and shelf-stable product.

Two weeks ago, southern Michigan saw some cold temperatures, Veliquette noted. Crops were destroyed in southwest and south central Michigan.

“In a season where we’ve already seen some crop damage downstate, and this week looks like it could be a little nippy up here in our vulnerable stage, for the long term prospects for the cherry market, (the purchase) is a good thing,” Veliquette said.

Local farmers are excited that they can help Americans in need despite the challenges they are facing due to weather conditions.

“I think northern Michigan growers should be very happy that our fruit is going to help with the recovery aid for people around the country who are suffering because of COVID-19 and other related issues,” said Leelanau County cherry grower Ben LaCross.

Rep. “Jack Bergman has worked really hard on this,” Veliquette said of Bergman getting cherries added to the list of commodities used to feed Americans. “He’s been the conduit to the USDA for a long time now. It’s just another example of working with the local farms, the local politicians, to actually get something done in Washington.”

Bergman noted that efforts to support the cherry industry are ongoing.

“I will continue coordinating with the (President Donald) Trump Administration to ensure our tart cherry industry can bounce back from this crisis,” Bergman said in a release.

Agriculture Shows
From soil to harvest. Top Crop is an all-new series about four of the best farmers in the world—Dan Luepkes, of Oregan, Illinois; Cory Atley, of Cedarville, Ohio; Shelby Fite, of Jackson Center, Ohio; Russell Hedrick, of Hickory, North Carolina—reveals what it takes for them to make a profitable crop. It all starts with good soil, patience, and a strong planter setup.
Champions of Rural America is a half-hour dive into the legislative priorities for Rural America. Join us as we interview members of the Congressional Western Caucus to learn about efforts in Washington to preserve agriculture and tackles the most important topics in the ag industry on Champions of Rural America!
Farm Traveler is for people who want to connect with their food and those who grow it. Thanks to direct-to-consumer businesses, agritourism, and social media, it’s now easier than ever to learn how our food is made and support local farmers. Here on the Farm Traveler, we want to connect you with businesses offering direct-to-consumer products you can try at home, agritourism sites you can visit with your family, and exciting new technologies that are changing how your food is being grown.
Featuring members of Congress, federal and state officials, ag and food leaders, farmers, and roundtable panelists for debates and discussions.
Host Ben Bailey hops in the tractor cab, giving farmers 10 minutes to answer as many questions and grab as much cash as they can for their local FFA chapter.