WPBN Marquette: Peters aims to help Michigan's cherry industry, other AG products crippled by dumping

LANSING, Mich. — A bipartisan effort is underway in Washington to help curb imported products sold at a lower price on the U.S. market, hurting many small industries.

Sen. Gary Peters, D-Michigan, introduced legislation aimed to help small and medium-sized businesses that have been negatively impacted by trade practices known as dumping; when products are imported and sold a lower price due to subsidies and little to no tariffs.

“We’ve certainly seen a very devastating impact of Turkish cherries being dumped on the market,” Peters said. “That’s in clear violation of trade rules, it’s illegal activity when it comes to trade policy.”

The influx of Turkish cherries hit industries in northern Michigan hard. Ben LaCross, manager of farming operations at LaCross Farms, said his operation have been hit by foreign competition for years.

Peters worked with Sen. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, to draft the legislation. The goal would be to give the U.S. Commerce Department the authority to launch investigations into the trade practices. The legislation calls to form a task force within the department with the sole responsibility of potential trade abuses investigations and ensures it has the tools and abilities to support businesses in the Unite States.

“The [commerce] department has the resources, it’s just a matter of making it a priority,” Peters said. “We have to protect our small businesses that are actually being hurt by foreign countries that are using practices that are simply unacceptable.”

The legislation would strengthen existing outreach programs run by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), to better inform small businesses on domestic and international intellectual property protections.

Peters and Burr first reintroduced the legislation last year.

Peters brought up the bill with President Donald Trump during a trade roundtable discussion in D.C. in 2018. Peters took the opportunity to explain that larger industries, like steel, have resources to launch individual investigations. Smaller industries, like Michigan’s cherry businesses, don’t have access the to same options.

“It’s a fantastic idea, but you’re right, they can’t hire the lawyers, it’s too small, but in a double way it’s very, very big,” Trump said.

Despite not being successful with the plan in 2018, Peters said he’s committed to seeing the legislation becoming law to help every small business impacted by the dumping practices.

“I’m going to keep pushing it until we make it a reality,” he said.

By:  Mikenzie Frost
Source: UPNorthLive.com