Letters: Other views on cherries, elections

The Detroit News

No fed help for cherry crop

In 2012, Michigan fruit farmers endured the worst drought in some time. My firm during this time was serving as chief restructuring officer for a dried fruit processor in Frankfort, Michigan. About 250 families depended on the company’s existence for jobs in a community where they are one of the largest employers.

This was a great company started by a co-op of cherry farmers to make dried fruit as an innovative way for the farmers to diversify their product offering away from roadside stands and pie fillings.

That year, while I was knee deep in the turnaround effort, I paid $1,000 to attend a fundraiser for Debbie Stabenow to get some face time to discuss the cherry farmers’ plight during this drought and to address what subsidies were available to assist the many family-owned farms who supplied us cherries but had experienced crop devastation which impacted their welfare.

Ms. Stabenow informed me that there would be no financial support for the fruit farmers out of Washington. I stated the drought for cherry farmers in Michigan was essentially the equivalent of Hurricane Katrina to businesses in New Orleans. She stated it was not considered a strategic crop eligible for more government assistance.

The Michigan cherry farmers are a resilient group. They started a campaign to create an awareness of the healthy attributes of eating cherries and drinking cherry juice.

The good news is the cherry industry grew under this initiative. The bad news for our Michigan farmers is that our government allowed Turkey and Poland to dump cheap cherries into the U.S. market.

Unfortunately for Michigan cherry farmers, even though they financially supported an awareness campaign, they did not benefit from subsequent growth in cherry consumption.

Instead, the growth in the market subsidized by our Michigan farmers aided foreign countries.

Our leaders in Washington and specifically our U.S. Senator who now leads the Agricultural Committee paid no attention to this phenomenon. Where is our advocacy in Washington to get subsidies to the Michigan farmers for this cost?

O'Keefe writes: "Ms. Stabenow informed me that there would be no financial support for the fruit farmers out of Washington."

As many family farms are in transition, their attractiveness to the next generation wanes as a result of the extensive hard work and poor economics our farmers continue to face. Our illustrious incumbent Senator voted against the tax bill because it was the partisan thing to do, not realizing its negative impact on the Michigan farmers who have been ignored by their elected representative in the Senate.

I would represent it is time for a change. Farmers can do better. Time to stop settling for scraps as Michigan farmers continue to put cherries on the ground and get real reform. Michigan farmers have a choice this election.

Patrick M. O’Keefe, former President

Turnaround Management Association

Dear women voters

I’m a black millennial woman who has lived my whole life in Oakland County, most of that time in Pontiac. I’m the demographic Democrats claim to champion, but that is simply not true.

If you abandon the GOP as a referendum on Trump, you’ll aid a party that openly despises civility, under the guise of championing people like me when, in reality, they are a detriment to my community, our Constitution, and our unalienable rights.

In February, I partnered with the RNC to host a showing of "Black Panther" and a business panel. Once we went over the benefits of the recently passed tax cuts, Democrats in the audience challenged us—not because they disagreed—because most black Americans are trapped within the Democratic Party and are shielded from this beneficial information. All I could do was promise to try harder, but it’s difficult when anything to do with Trump is portrayed as a moral outrage worthy of pure character assassination.

This election is bigger than Donald Trump. Democrats hate to lose, they hate who they fight, and they hate all who support their opposition.

Christina L. Barr, coalitions vice-chair for the Michigan Republican Party

Oakland County