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Sweet cherries from the 2018 harvest are included in a mitigation package aimed at helping farmers hurt financially by continued trade disputes. (James W. Michael/Northwest Cherry Growers)

Sweet cherries from the 2018 harvest are included in a mitigation package aimed at helping farmers hurt financially by continued trade disputes. (James W. Michael/Northwest Cherry Growers)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has officially added sweet cherries to a mitigation package aimed at helping farmers hurt financially by continued trade disputes.

Beginning Monday, Sept. 24, producers of fresh sweet cherries, as well as shelled almonds, may apply for Market Facilitation Program payments at their local Farm Service Agency offices.

A payment will be issued on 50 percent of a producer’s total production, multiplied by the MFP rate for a specific commodity. The initial payment rates are 16 cents per pound for sweet cherries and three cents per pound for shelled almonds.

A second payment period, if warranted, will be determined by USDA.

Payments are capped per person or legal entity at a combined $125,000 for shelled almonds and fresh sweet cherries.

Eligible applicants must have an ownership interest in the commodity, be actively engaged in farming and have an adjusted gross income of less than $900,000 for tax years 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Applicants must also comply with the provisions of the Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation regulations.

Cherry growers are expected to share in $111.5 million in aid as part of an overall $12 billion package the Trump administration approved to help growers and producers hurt by U.S. trade policies.

Earlier this year, China assessed a 15 percent tariff on cherries, followed by an additional 25 percent in July, in retaliation for U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods.

Washington cherry growers alone expect to lose $86 million as a result of the trade disputes.

Last year, the Northwest shipped 3 million boxes to China, about 12 percent of its crop.

—by Shannon Dininny