Northwest cherry growers impacted by Chinese retaliatory tariffs could be inline for a federal bailout.
U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell and Congressman Dan Newhouse announced that they secured funding through a provision added to the supplemental disaster budget bill which was approved by the Senate Thursday.
The money comes from the US Department of Agriculture’s Market Facilitation Program. The Cantwell-Newhouse provision provides a one-time expansion of the eligibility guidelines of the program, allowing all cherry growers to receive financial assistance, as long as 75% of the individual grower’s income comes from farming. The one-time payments will be made available through the administration’s Trade Aid Package.
US Senator Maria Cantwell photo provided
Senator Cantwell says the aid is critical to supporting the more than 2,500 cherry growers in the Pacific Northwest and the thousands of jobs they support.
Congressman Newhouse says the fix is essential to ensure growers can continue to operate in this upcoming growing season while the Administration continues their work to level the playing field with China.
China is the number one market for Washington state sweet cherries but cherry sales dropped from 3.2 million cartons in 2017 to 1.6 million cartons in 2018. Some estimate that tariffs cost Washington state cherry growers between $60-80 million in lost profits. The bill is awaiting house action.