Letter: Stabenow farm bill helps cherry growers

The Detroit News

I’m writing in response to a letter published on Oct. 24 titled “No fed help for cherry crop.”

No senator in my lifetime has worked harder on behalf of the cherry industry than Senator Stabenow.

As a tart cherry grower who has spent my whole life involved with the cherry industry, I am acutely aware of the issues facing our cherry growers. As a result of devastating cherry losses in 2012, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow stood with our growers and fought for the resources they needed.

It’s true that many specialty crop growers in 2012 did not have the risk management tools they needed to protect their farms from disasters like this. Senator Stabenow changed that. Serving as Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, she added a provision in the current Farm Bill to provide $13.4 million in disaster relief to fruit growers who experienced damage from the 2012 freeze.

Additionally, she added historic support for our cherry growers to ensure that they could access crop insurance to protect their farms from devastating losses like this in the future.

This year, she has continued her leadership for our cherry industry by co-authoring the 2018 Senate Farm Bill, which passed on a historic bipartisan vote of 86-11 and includes important provisions for Michigan fruit growers.

Nugent writes: "No senator in my lifetime has worked harder on behalf of the cherry industry than Senator Stabenow."

Contrary to what the Oct. 24 letter claims, Senator Stabenow is well aware of the unfair import competition that has hurt our cherry industry. She included a provision in the new Farm Bill to ensure that Michigan grown cherries are on a level playing field by increasing standards for imported products.

She has also repeatedly urged the Administration to support the cherry industry’s petition to revoke duty-free access for cherry imports from Turkey. Additionally, she has championed efforts to provide relief to growers in the short-term through USDA commodity purchases, including a $25 million purchase announced earlier this year.

Agriculture is Michigan’s second largest industry and has no greater champion than Senator Stabenow.

Jim Nugent, cherry grower
Suttons Bay